Head of TSA John Pistole stepping down in December

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John Pistole, head of the Transportation Security Administration for the past four years, announced today that he will retire at the end of 2014. 

Mainstream media have long fallen over themselves helping Pistole disseminate half-truths, spin, and baldfaced lies about the TSA. Nothing is different today. Indeed, the press is being totally consistent, praising Pistole to high Heaven, as though the agency he ran — one that’s tasked with violating Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights as a condition of allowing them to travel from Point A to Point B in their own country — never did anything wrong, never harmed a soul.

Here’s what USA Today has to say:

Pistole, a 26-year veteran of the FBI, boosted the agency’s professionalism and shifted its approach to risk-based screening focusing greater scrutiny on travelers who were less known to authorities or who represented a known threat.

They appear to be alluding to TSA Pre-Check, which offers Americans the opportunity to pay a yearly fee, pass a background check, and go through the same screening everyone used to go through in the years before 19 hijackers with Stanley knives created a few billion tons of rubble, after which America promptly lost its mind and forgot what the phrase Land of The Free and Home of The Brave meant.

In other words, Pre-Check sometimes allows people to walk through a metal-detector and have their carryon bags x-rayed. (Although paying for Pre-Check doesn’t guarantee you won’t be singled out for “increased scrutiny,” i.e. a bag-search and body-groping, for no reason other than the TSA’s whim.) In short: you must now pay to have things be the way they used to be for free.

Those who are Less Equal, though — the Non-Pre-Check masses who haven’t paid — get to enjoy Pistole’s full program, what my colleague Lisa Simeone at TSA News likes to call the Reign of Molestation: shoes and jackets off, laptops dragged out of luggage, line up like cattle and walk through the scanner and/or subject yourself to a physical encounter of varying degrees of intimacy with one of the TSA agents on duty.

Since the media won’t do it, we’d like to remind readers about some of the things that took place during Pistole’s Reign of Molestation.

As contributor Bill Fisher — whose wish is finally being granted! — wrote, in the excellent 2012 post John Pistole Must Go:

So a year later we have reports that TSA molested three children, a ten-year-old with a diabetes pump, a four-year-old who hugged her grandmother, and a seven-year-old with cerebral palsy — the latter was groped twice. They also sexually assaulted a Congressman, and groped and robbed a 95-year-old veteran and his wife. In addition, four TSA screeners were arrested for smuggling drugs through LAX.

There have been a total of 91 TSA workers arrested in the last 16 months, including 12 arrested for child sex crimes, over 25 for theft, ten for smuggling, and one for murder. Crime, abuse, and incompetence are so widespread in TSA that even Kip Hawley, the last TSA Director, has called for its overhaul.

Lisa Simeone wrote, also in 2012, about the TSA’s assault of a congressman:

Finally experiencing what thousands of his constituents have, U.S. Congressman Francisco Canseco of Texas says he was assaulted by the TSA during a “pat-down.”

Canseco said:

“The agent was very aggressive in his pat-down, and he was patting me down where no one is supposed to go,” said Canseco.  “It got very uncomfortable so I moved his hand away.  That stopped everything and brought in supervisors and everyone else.”

It gets better. Because reflexively brushing away the hand of someone who is groping your genitals — in other words, a normal reflex anywhere else — is considered by the TSA to be — wait for it — assault.

That’s right. In an about-turn that out-Orwells Orwell, you, the victim, are now being accused of doing to someone else the very thing that was done to you.

Simeone also covered Pistole’s Propaganda Machine:

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.

Contributor Chris Bray recently pointed out the ludicrous state of security affairs, wherein countless billions of our tax dollars are wasted on Security Theater and pointless harassing of innocent Americans even as gaping holes in security are revealed at places like . . . the White House:

The United States Secret Service is among the most sophisticated security agencies in the world. 

It protects the White House with many layers of extraordinarily serious security measures. (Regular readers here will be forgiven for being reminded of the TSA’s layers.) […] Last week, though, an intruder jumped the White House fence, sprinted across the lawn, and managed to enter the North Portico before being stopped. He actually made it inside the president’s house. Imagine if a suicide bomber had done such a thing.

Perhaps some of the $8 billion spent on the TSA every year for security theater could be diverted to actual security — you know, like instead of confiscating Terroristy Toothpaste and peanut butter from innocent passengers at airports maybe our security overlords could concern themselves with actual threats, such as preventing intruders from getting into the White House.

And let us not forget the jaw-dropping TSA incidents that took place under Pistole’s reign that did make the news (even if the reporters conveniently forgot about said incidents within days, if not sooner). Like the groping of a terrified 6-year-old girl which Pistole called “appropriate” (he then phoned the agent and thanked her for her professionalism). Or the time the TSA groped a cancer-stricken, 95-year-old mother and forced her to remove her adult diaper, all of which actions Pistole defended, adding:

“Every traveler is a critical partner in TSA’s efforts to keep our skies safe. […] And I know and appreciate that the vast majority of Americans recognize and respect the important work we do.”

But hey, we’re optimists here at TSA News. We might as well wish for a reasonable, non-fearmongering, civil-liberties-respecting replacement for John Pistole, someone who’ll hop out of our Christmas stocking and announce the end of the Reign of Molestation.

That, or a pony. Might as well wish, right?

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