From a New York Times blog post by Juliet Lapidos, that’s the perfect thing to say to the TSA as you’re assuming the position of a common criminal. I missed this piece from earlier in September:
On the Sunday before the Republican convention, Senator Rand Paul ranted against his least favorite government bureaucracy: The Transportation Security Administration. Addressing a crowd at the University of South Florida, he mimicked the backscatter-machine stance (arms up in the air, legs apart) and asked “Is this the pose of a free man?”
. . . Mr. Paul’s vendetta against the TSA has some merit. Nearly 11 years since its establishment, there’s plenty of evidence that the TSA is inefficient, and if not ineffective, at least less effective than it should be.
The House Subcommittee on Transportation Security released a report on Monday that calls TSA operations “in many cases costly, counterintuitive, and poorly executed.”
. . . Echoing security experts such as Bruce Schneier, the report says the TSA “maintains a reactive approach to security.” After the attempted bombing of American Airlines Flight 63 in December 2001, the TSA required passengers to remove their shoes at checkpoints. After the discovery of the liquid explosives plot in Great Britain in August 2006, the TSA banned liquids and gels. And so on. The report notes, dryly, that “once a procedure is put in place, it is almost never removed.” Airport security is a game of catch-up, and it seems the TSA rarely considers whether new technology obviates the need for annoying and intrusive restrictions.
. . . While the TSA insists on confiscating lighters, it’s oddly slow to enforce protocols that actually make sense. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Congress instructed TSA agents to vet foreign flight students. They do; but there’s a hitch. The Government Accountability Office said in July that “this vetting does not occur until after the foreign national has obtained flight training.”
The TSA seems like a caricature of a wasteful bureaucracy, spending astounding amounts of money even during a sluggish economic recovery.
•The TSA employs roughly 62,000 people, including 47,000 screeners, at a cost of more than $3 billion a year in payroll, compensation, and benefits. But “there does not appear to be a correlation between TSA’s staffing model and the number of travelers that need to be screened.” The TSA workforce is larger now than it was in 2005 despite a “net decrease in the number of people traveling” domestically.
From the comments there:
Our screeners are composed of a workforce that includes individuals like a member of my extended family. —A person who did not graduate high school, has a severe problem with alcohol, personality problems, and in all probability, psych issues. Yet this person was hired & employed as a screener in one of the nation’s busiest airports. It’s time to get serious about making our air traffic safer or stop wasting billions of dollars on the window dressing/charade that passes for security in our airports.
All TSA has done in 10 years is to stop idiot gun-nuts who “forgot” to take their handgun out of their bag and stop me from carrying on my terrorist Swiss army knife with its one-inch blade and half-inch scissors. Oh, and a half-empty bottle of aloe vera.
What a huge waste of time and taxpayer money TSA is.
On a recent trip I was shuttling from the rental car return to the terminal when the driver began to chat about her other job as a TSA inspector. Am I the only one who finds it jarring that TSA positions require the same level of expertise as driving a shuttle bus? My husband wasn’t a bit surprised.
Another — great point:
There are thousands of venues in which a machine gun could have killed hundreds–security lines outside airports, at Disneyland, at malls and sports stadiums, high schools, and on and on.
There is no reason that a terrorist has to get on an airplane in order to kill and maim and terrify. They could do the same damage on subway cars or classrooms. They could buy their weapons and ammunition legally and create major events on a weekly basis. They could stand on freeway overpasses.
In fact these things *have* happened, just not by terrorists. Therefore, we can safely conclude that there are no terrorists planning to do it. If there were, they would not have lain quiet for 11 years.
Another — also right on:
The article is based on the premise that the role of TSA is to keep us safe. It appears to me that the real goal is to purchase extremely expensive equipment from politically connected companies. It seems to be accomplishing that mission quite effectively.
And very important:
Just a gentle reminder since many of us, including you, have forgotten our civics class lessons: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
More on that:
Because you want to get on an airplane, suddenly all of your constitutional rights are suspended and you are presumed guilty until proven innocent.