Base rate fallacy dooms TSA’s risk-based screening

The TSA has been peddling the concept of risk-based screening vigorously of late. PreCheck is one oft-touted example of risk-based screening; others include behavior detection and modified screenings for the oldest and youngest passengers. The TSA might feel the need to mollify an outraged public, but the public should be only more outraged that the TSA keeps wasting our money on screening methods that can’t possibly work.  Continue reading Base rate fallacy dooms TSA’s risk-based screening

5 things the TSA doesn’t want you to see

This is a picture of two Transportation Security Administration screeners leaving work last week.

But look closely. They’re nowhere near an airport. In fact, if you’ve ever been to Washington, then you’ll recognize the area just outside a Metro station near a congressional office building.

This is just one the images the TSA didn’t want you to see last week.
Continue reading 5 things the TSA doesn’t want you to see

A new low: TSA steals from Army officer on leave

Photo by Flickr user  Foxtongue, licensed under Creative Commons

As someone who has been observing and writing about the TSA for a few years now, I often hear from members of the traveling public about their experiences with the agency. Their inevitably negative experiences, I should say, since I have not yet received a single e-mail, Facebook message, or Tweet in support of the TSA’s violative naked-scans, intrusive body-gropings, unconscionable humiliation of disabled and elderly passengers and cancer-survivors, and terrifying behavior toward children. Not one. The stories always contain varying combinations of sadness, disgust, and fury. Continue reading A new low: TSA steals from Army officer on leave

Senate committee votes to help TSA spend more money

Apparently, $8 billion a year isn’t enough for the TSA. They’ve run into a budget shortfall.

Hey, have some sympathy:  the skills required to bully, harass, rob, strip, and grope people — and then lie about it — don’t come cheap.  Continue reading Senate committee votes to help TSA spend more money

Man Tasered for mentioning the word “bomb”

A man who was clearly intoxicated was attacked by police with a Taser after the TSA reported that he was “making threats” at Austin Straubel International Airport.

I know we’ve been told for years not to make jokes about bombs or indeed even to mention the word “bomb” in the presence of the TSA. I get it. But this man was visibly drunk. I understand that the TSA agents, who have no law enforcement authority (thank god), were required to call the police. But did the cops have to torture the guy?

Apparently he was using — gasp — profane language. Well, there’s a big scary threat for you. Under that guideline, I should be taken into custody and “subdued” several times a day. Probably several times an hour.

(Photo: Flickr Creative Commons/Michael Coté)

What the hell gives them the right to frisk Henry Kissinger?

No one should have been surprised when Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger issued a statement praising the the Transportation Security Administration for its professionalism after he got a pat-down last week in New York.

What was he supposed to do, call the TSA a criminal organization?
Continue reading What the hell gives them the right to frisk Henry Kissinger?

TSA executive admits not a single terrorist-related arrest has resulted from whole-body scanners


We call it mission creep. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) started out as an organization with a mandate to protect Americans from terrorists in the post-9/11 world. The TSA mission on its website is: Continue reading TSA executive admits not a single terrorist-related arrest has resulted from whole-body scanners