TSA propagandist meltdown at Forbes

by Bill Fisher on October 25, 2012


Ted Reed of Forbes has written a column titled “Remember 9/11?” In it, he defends the TSA’s actions and uses as evidence another column written by the TSA’s Lisa Farbstein.

In that column, Farbstein issued a rebuttal to a syndicated article by Diane Dimond called “Time to Say ‘So Long’ to the TSA’s Sour Attitude.” Farbstein attempts to use 9/11 as an excuse to defend the continuing rash of reports of TSA misconduct and crime. And Ted Reed of Forbes backs her up all the way.

According to the argument, reminiscent of a rapist’s defense, we should accept whatever abuses the TSA heaps upon us and ignore the rampant criminality and hostility of its screeners. After all America, you asked for it.

In an article that borders on sociopathic, Farbstein contends that Americans have no right to complain about TSA abuses because, well, just because. She goes on to imply that public criticism is part of some Republican conspiracy designed to dismantle the agency. She conveniently ignores that some of the biggest critics have been Democrats, including Senator Claire McCaskill.

She uses 9/11 to excuse TSA excesses but ignores the fact that the 9/11 survivors group 9/11 Families for America has criticized TSA procedures as unnecessary, accused it of being inept, and called for its reform.

This comes on the same day that ABC News published a list of the 20 worst airports for TSA thefts, citing hundreds of screeners fired in the past year for stealing from passengers’ bags. Perhaps Farbstein can explain how this is necessary to prevent another 9/11. She doesn’t explain exactly how critics of the TSA are managing to get screeners to commit crimes or neglect their duties, but then has the audacity to argue that the steady stream of TSA misconduct really isn’t so bad, and that anyway, everybody does it, not just TSA workers.

Examples, Ms. Farbstein? She supplies none.

Can she explain why it was necessary to publicly humiliate and expose a dying woman’s feeding tube last week and why she was refused private screening? Or which terrorist plot was foiled by traumatizing a 7-year-old with cerebral palsy? Does humiliating and degrading people prevent another 9/11?

Maybe she can explain why over 100 TSA agents have been arrested for serious crime in less than 2 years and why this is necessary. Many agencies and private businesses with as many or more employees don’t come close to this level of criminal activity. When was the last time anyone heard of an IRS agent or USDA or DOT employee being arrested? With TSA employees, it happens nearly every week.

Can Farbstein point to one terrorist that the TSA has caught or even identified after 11 years and $80 billion?

Perhaps she can explain why the TSA needs to retain a known pedophile, Thomas Harkin, as a TSA Supervisor in Philadelphia, six months after his past was exposed. Will she argue that having pedophiles search people is somehow preventing a terrorist attack?

Maybe she’ll tell us why the TSA is moving the radiation-emitting backscatter scanners that produce naked images to smaller airports when it knows that these are harmful and in violation of child pornography laws. Is it just to hide them from the millions of passengers who use the major airports?

Gallup’s data also shows that 58% of respondents thought the TSA was less than reliable, even though most are not familiar with current procedures and 75% rarely if ever fly. A subsequent poll of frequent fliers showed that 78% believed the agency was ineffective and not worth the cost.

TSA Deputy Director John Halinski said in testimony to Congress in August that the TSA receives over 700,000 traveler comments a year, only 60,000 of which they classify as complaints. Congress contends that most of those 700,000 are complaints. At best, this is at least 5,000 complaints a month. And those are just the ones that get reported.

How many people don’t even bother complaining because they think their complaints will go nowhere, or because, as they’ve told us, they’re afraid they’ll get singled out for even more harassment? Sometimes screeners claim there are no complaint forms available. One of our writers at TSA News, Sommer Gentry, can testify to the fact that when she tried to lodge a complaint after she was sexually assaulted by a TSA agent, the supervisor refused to give her the name of the screener who assaulted her.

Perhaps Farbstein can enlighten us on why TSA screeners routinely contradict published policy on the TSA website and claim the website is wrong. They almost universally block attempts to record them, deny private screening requests, and require passengers to remove clothing. When these incidents are made public, the TSA blames the passenger or a lack of screener training. After 11 years why are there still so many untrained screeners?

Perhaps Farbstein can explain how dumping liquids out in our checked bags and vandalizing the contents is improving airline security.

Perhaps she forgets that no planes were hijacked between October 2001 and October 2010 when the TSA began groping children, strip searching women, and increased their efforts to steal and destroy our property. She fails to recognize that offensive procedures weren’t necessary then and aren’t necessary now.

And Forbes’s Ted Reed puts the icing on the cake. In a stunning example of contempt for the public, Reed adds that no one knows how much security is enough or how much is too much. So let’s just settle for what we’ve got.

Well, for the benefit of apologists like Reed and propagandists like Farbstein and the other clueless bureaucrats at the TSA, your current amount of “security” is too much. Try actually listening to the passengers you disparage.

Oh, and that photo at the top? That’s one of the scary “catches” the TSA brags about in its weekly round-up of items passengers try to bring on planes. Yeah, a fancy purse that costs over a thousand bucks is a real catch.

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