Morrissey alleges sexual assault by TSA

British indie rock musician Stephen Patrick Morrissey — better known simply as Morrissey — became well known in the 1980s with his band The Smiths. He’s now 56 years old. And yesterday he filed a complaint against the TSA for sexual assault.

Welcome to the club, Morrissey.

Americans — and visitors to the U.S. — get sexually assaulted by the TSA every day. It’s standard operating procedure here. Americans accept it. Some of us have been trying to tell your compatriots about it for years and have usually been met with incredulity and ridicule. But since the UK is now adopting the worst practices of the US — including using the scanners that it already found don’t work — it’s only a matter of time before those heads in the sand pop out.

As Morrissey says:

“I went through the usual airport security procedure including the standup ‘scanner’, and all was well – no bleeps and nothing unusual.

“Before I could gather my belongings from the usual array of trays, I was approached by an ‘airport security officer’ who stopped me, crouched before me and groped my penis and testicles.

Of course. The blue shirt probably recognized you and wanted to cop a feel. (That’s if he was smart enough to know who you are, which is a tall order with the TSA.)

Well, good luck with that complaint. As always, “TSA takes all allegations of misconduct seriously and strives to treat every passenger with dignity and respect.” 

Ha ha — as millions of people have already discovered, joke’s on you!

(Photo: “Morrissey crop tie” Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia)

Cross-posted at ABombazine

Media continue to pamper the TSA

The more you read, the less you know.

News coverage of the Transportation “Security” Administration routinely accepts premises that are ridiculously exaggerated, breathlessly framing stories around falsehoods and fantasies.

And here we go again, with a story in the Tampa Tribune about the legal travails of TSA officers who are suing the agency over its supposedly unfair employment practices. Here’s how senior military affairs writer Howard Altman introduces his protagonist:

For four years, Angnel Blanco was a top employee with the Transportation Security Administration at Orlando International Airport.

She earned accolades as a behavior detection officer, using agency techniques developed by the Israelis to help locate illegal drugs and keep passengers safe.

Almost every word of that second sentence is false. The TSA has no formal role — none — that requires or allows it to “help locate illegal drugs.” Its function at the airport is to keep weapons and terrorists off of airplanes, full stop. TSA smurfs aren’t cops. They aren’t sort-of cops. They have no law enforcement authority. And they work for an agency that doesn’t exist for the purpose of being any kind of junior drug enforcement agency at all.

Judges have thrown out cases that resulted from TSA searches that turned up drugs and cash, ruling that the agency has no authority to conduct that kind of search (though they continue to flout the law and do it anyway). To the extent that the TSA has a role in illegal drug trafficking, their officers tend to be on the other side. The TSA’s “behavior detection officers” cannot lawfully be trained to “help locate drugs,” because they have no legal authority to do so.

Nor are the TSA’s pathetic behavior detection workers engaged in techniques “developed by the Israelis.” Israeli airport security is radically more invasive than the U.S. model, and is far more targeted on religion and ethnicity. Israeli security officials have rolled their eyes at the comparison, and with good reason.

As for the effectiveness of those eagle-eyed behavior detection officers, the Government Accountability Office found that TSA-trained BDOs’ ability to detect suspicious or evasive behavior is “the same as or slightly better than chance.” They are unambiguously worthless, which we’ve been pointing out for years. And years.

In just one sentence, then, a news report about the TSA is flatly wrong in at least three different ways.

Reporters, this is pretty simple: Those who work for the TSA like to tell dramatic stories about themselves. Trained by the Israelis! Standing on the front lines of the war on terrorism! Catching terrorists and drug dealers! Those stories are false, stupid, and pathetic. You should stop the practice of credulously typing them up as if they were in any way true.

TSA: “Careful what you say. You don’t like this? You respect this badge right here.”

Well, well, well, shock of shocks, we have yet another of our fine, upstanding blue-shirted civil servants who don’t know their own rules. Or who pretend not to.

As we’ve pointed out, with evidence, dozens of times: yes, you are allowed to videotape, film, photograph, audio-record, or sketch the TSA in action, including while they’re doing their “pat-downs.” It says so on the TSA’s own website:

TSA does not prohibit the public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping or filming at security checkpoints, as long as the screening process is not interfered with or slowed down.

But because so many TSA clerks like to throw their weight around, they often tell people they can’t videotape/photograph them. That’s what happened here, where the blue-shirted wonder not only lied to the young boy trying to videotape his own and his father’s pat-down but threatened him with the cops. In fact, the TSA tinpot dictator did call the cops. He also said, when the boy correctly pointed out that the TSA’s website indicates that videotaping is allowed, “Careful what you say. You don’t like this? You respect this badge.”

Yeah, we respect your fake badge.

Watch and listen.

(Cross-posted at ABombazine)

Another day, another passenger screwed by the TSA

Almost every day I receive emails from people telling me about their TSA experiences. They often wonder if they could have prevented the abuse meted out to them by dressing differently, talking differently, acting differently, flying out of a different airport, you name it. As I always tell them, no. You have no power over how the TSA treats you. The TSA has absolute power. Whether a TSA agent woke up on the wrong side of the bed one morning or is simply being sadistic, it has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with them.

Yesterday I received an email from a man who, with his 17-year-old son, was harassed in Buffalo. He thought it had something to do with the location, since he said he hadn’t been bothered in Reno. Again, no. He just happened to be the victim of TSA whim, which rules everything when you fly. Don’t look for logic, I told him; there is none. There isn’t meant to be.

What the TSA did to him and his son — which, I might add, was illegal, but as I’ve written hundreds of times, the TSA does illegal stuff all the time — what the TSA did was to compel obedience. It was power for the sake of exercising power. It was to put him in his place, to show him who’s in charge. And as long as people keep choosing to fly, they are putting themselves at the mercy of this power. They are tacitly agreeing that the TSA should be in charge.

Here is his email to me, in its entirety, with slight editing for punctuation:

I don’t fly much — I really have developed an aversion to flying.

I recently flew Southwest from Reno to Buffalo. TSA in Reno was fine — smiling, cordial, friendly.

My return from Buffalo, I found TSA to be the opposite — rude, unprofessional, bullying. I was fuming. I went through with my 17-year-old son. We had to go through a full-body imaging system. I have no objection.

Son gets pulled aside. I go through and wait for my carry-on to get scanned. Lots of TSA people milling about, yet it wasn’t that busy. TSA dude handling my carry-on asks if I’m with someone, and I tell him I’m with the young guy in the brown t-shirt (point toward him). TSA dude says they’re sending my carry-on back through scanner again. OK. Lots of confusion and TSA people bumping into each other. Someone comes back with my carry-on stuff — changed their mind about sending it through scanner, I guess. Then one of them says to me in a not very professional tone: “Why didn’t you tell us you were with someone ?” I suppose my tone in response was not what I’d characterize as submissive: “I did. I told you that I was with the kid in the brown shirt over there.” I’m confused. The TSA dude is holding my tray of carry-on and on top are two pairs of shoes. DUH!

So they carry my tray of carry-on over to a table I’m standing and someone with a metal detector goes through my stuff. Fine, no problem. Meanwhile, they take my kid to an open area and do a full-body pat-down. When this is finished my son comes back to where I’m standing in front of a table with my carry-on stuff in the tray. A second group of two TSA people come over and start again to rifle through my carry-on stuff.

The TSA agent starts asking my son questions:  what’s your business in Buffalo, what did you do here, who did you see here, and she keeps drilling down to information that is clearly none of her business. How many cousins do you have, etc. It’s clearly some sort of behavioral testing. She asks me for my ID. It’s in the tray with the rest of my carry-on stuff. I offer to pull it out for her, but she waves me away saying she’s going to do it herself.

She then proceeds to take out my money clip and goes through one by one every item, dollar, and card in my money clip — finds my driver’s license and then asks me if I’m the name on my driver’s license. They leave my carry-on stuff a mess in this tray that looks like it’s NEVER been cleaned — the bottom of it is filthy. That ends the interrogation and they just walk away. By then I’m steaming fucking mad as hell at our treatment and their unprofessional behavior. I don’t mind going through a serious, professional security check, but I DO mind being bullied, abused, and feeling like they aren’t doing a professional job but doing a half-assed job.

So, it appears that the quality of TSA professionalism varies greatly from airport to airport. Some are obviously a joke. So is there any web site I can look to research the quality of TSA professionalism by airport? I would have been better prepared to go through this bunch of bozos if I knew how rude Buffalo was going to be beforehand.

I suppose I volunteered to get extra special treatment because I wasn’t a submissive sheep in response to unnecessarily getting yelled at.

Well, just sharing my story and obviously venting. I don’t know if rudeness even qualifies as a TSA complaint, and I suspect that by complaining I’d probably get on some sort of suspect list. Really felt like I was in Stalin Russia or Hitler Germany!

As I told him, no, there’s no website where you can research the quality of TSA professionalism [sic] by airport. And even if there were, it would be meaningless. It’s not about professionalism. It’s about obedience training. They messed with him because they can. “Rude” is a wholly inadequate word for what they did to him and his son.

And “behavior detection”? Ha! We’ve written about this more times than I can count. TSA “behavior detection” is bullshit. It’s not only bullshit on its face, as anyone’s common sense can tell, it’s been proven, objectively, repeatedly, to be bullshit.

The TSA has no right to go through people’s money, wallets, personal documents. This, too, has been proven. But they do it anyway, over and over and over again.

Oh, and of course he can complain to his heart’s content; nothing will come of it. Neither will he be put on a “suspect list.” The TSA would like you believe they maintain such a list, but they don’t. They don’t have their shit together enough for that. They’re busy confiscating shampoo, water bottles, and mashed potatoes; how can they possibly spend time maintaining a list of people on whom they want to get revenge?

Besides, any victim will do. Whether they’re pissed off at you in particular, at a passenger from last week, or just at the world in general, if you drift into their crosshairs, tough luck. They’ll get their jollies one way or another.

(Cross-posted at ABombazine)

UK “security” just as clueless as US

A recent protest at Heathrow where people who objected to the expansion of the airport blocked a runway caused the cancellation of 13 flights. It took the authorities 7 hours to get the protesters off. How did they get on in the first place? By cutting through a fence and then chaining themselves to said fence. Easy as pie. Just as is it is in the US.

In a stunt which raised questions about the security of Europe’s busiest airport, a group of at least 12 activists said it took only minutes to get through the apparently unguarded wire fence at around 02:30 local time allowing them access to the northern runway.

The protest was eventually ended by police more than seven hours later, the airport said.

Stowaways in the US have also proven, time and time again, how easy it is to circumvent “security.” Meanwhile, the TSA — and its UK equivalent — are busy sticking their hands down your pants. Feel safer now?

Neffenger to head TSA, nothing will change

The Senate has confirmed a longtime Coast Guard officer, Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger, to serve as the director of the so-called Transportation Security Administration. The change has no meaning or significance of any kind, and will do nothing to anything anywhere, at all, ever. The TSA status quo will continue to status quo itself, status quoistically.

If you doubt that in any way, take a few minutes to watch the opening statement Neffenger recited at his pathetic confirmation hearing. Among the highlights:

“Workforce training, retention and accountability are a second challenge facing TSA. If confirmed, I will pay close attention to the development of the TSA workforce. I will examine how to use the TSA academy established by John Pistole to further improve performance and to instill an ever greater sense of pride in the agency and the critically important mission. I will continue to focus on customer service.”

And:

“I will commit myself to ensuring that TSA employs multilayered intelligence operations. That TSA recruits and retains a highly skilled workforce while placing a premium on professional values.”

He’s going to further improve performance at the agency where security officers fail 67 security tests out of 70.

He’s going to instill a greater sense of pride and professionalism in the government organization that deliberately triggered false alarms so an “officer” could provide unwanted crotch massage to hot guys, and where the press office amuses itself by taking photographs showing the private, lawful contents of passenger luggage and posting them to social media.

He’s going to focus on retaining a highly skilled workforce at the agency that remains a GED-optional employer of last resort.

And, of course, he’s going to maintain the TSA‘s laser focus on customer service.

Peter Neffenger appears to be out of his fricking mind, and the TSA is going to absorb him like an ocean eating a drop of water. They’ll wheel out his dessicated husk from time to time to read prepared comments, then wheel him back into his carrying case and snap the latch firmly shut. Our warmest thanks to the United States Senate for the thoughtfulness and care that went into the evaluation of this important nominee.