It’s April 1st – and the TSA is still full of fools

TSA-PrecheckByMarkElliott

Sorry, I don’t have the energy to do a new April Fool’s post today, though we’ve had some good ones in the past — in 2013, here, and in 2014, here.

Instead, you can just enjoy this great graphic designed by TSA News reader Mark Elliot of Better Bike, who used his creativity and a little Photoshop to put it together. Thanks, Mark!

@AskTSA

At the top of this blog, in the Menu bar, please note the arrival of a new page at TSA News: @AskTSA, a compendium from the AskTSA Twitter site of passenger comments and TSA responses that I consider noteworthy. For example, comments from passengers who criticize the TSA, or responses by the TSA that show a lack of reading comprehension, or incomplete responses, such as when a TSA rep tells passengers they can bring something on board, but doesn’t add that any screener can deny any item at any time for any reason.

The page will be updated on a regular basis.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post that include several comments from passengers who felt violated by the TSA during so-called “enhanced patdowns.” Since that post was published, no other explicit comments about “pat downs” have appeared on the @AskTSA Twitter feed.

Coincidence?

I don’t think so.

It certainly looks as if the TSA is now hiding critical comments. In place of those critical comments about abusive pat-downs, @AskTSA is now publishing comments from passengers about the great treatment they got from TSA screeners, how efficient and kind they were. If you believe those are the only kinds of comments travelers are tweeting to the TSA, I have a bridge to sell you.

The following Tweets appeared on AskTSA last night, March 30, 2016:

2.92.10

Vinnie Liar” opened his Twitter account yesterday and sent six comments to various U.S. and British agencies. Is there anyone who doesn’t think he was jerking chains and playing — anyone, that is, except @AskTSA?

Belgium attacks: more proof that the TSA is useless

The bomb attacks in Belgium today — three of them, two at different locations in the airport and one in the subway — present in high relief yet more proof of what we’ve been pointing out for five years now at this blog: the TSA is a charade. The TSA does not and cannot and will never prevent terror attacks. All the pre-boarding bullying, harassing, scanning, and groping doesn’t make a damn bit of difference, because — duh — people can set off bombs anywhere, not just on a plane.

From the Tribune wire reports:

Witnesses told The Associated Press that one occurred at an excess baggage payment counter and the other near a Starbucks cafe.

Hello?? Excess baggage payment counter. Starbucks cafe. In the airport. Not on a plane.

And the subway explosions happened in, er, the subway. Not on a plane.

Even the most credulous, unthinking TSA apologists can see those facts. I don’t believe it’ll make any difference — in fact, I know it won’t. But at least the rest of us can see what’s right in front of our faces even if they refuse to.

The TSA isn’t protecting you from anything. If you think it is, the kindest thing I can say about you is that you’re deluded. Willfully deluded. But I’ve been at this long enough to know that denial is one of humankind’s most cherished behaviors.

(Photo: Jef Versele via Yahoo News)

Cross-posted at ABombazine

James Bovard’s op-ed on TSA abuse in USA Today

Fellow crusader in the struggle James Bovard, about whom we’ve written before, has a new op-ed about the TSA in USA Today. Though he doesn’t link directly to TSA News, he does cover in a cogent, comprehensive fashion a lot of the same ground we’ve covered here over the years.

The title of the op-ed is “My too intimate relations with the TSA.”

Since USA Today accepts only Facebook comments, you can’t leave a comment unless you’re on FB. That counts me out. But I’d just say the same things I’ve been saying for years: the TSA is an out-of-control, criminal agency that abuses people with impunity. But apparently people are okay with being abused because they keep flying. We’re set to break all flying records this summer. I don’t believe things will change in my lifetime.

Oh, and one more thing, though we’ve repeated it countless times already: never, ever go into a private room with these people. They can’t force you to do that. Insist that they perform their abusive grope in public. As Susan Richart keeps reminding us, administrative searches — which is what by law the TSA is supposed to be doing, that and nothing more — have very strict guidelines:

“Moreover, the possibility for abuse is minimized by the public nature of the search. Unlike searches conducted on dark and lonely streets at night where often the officer and the subject are the only witnesses, these searches are made under supervision and not far from the scrutiny of the traveling public.”

See United States v. Skipwith, 482 F.2d 1272, 1275
(5th Cir. 1973).

TSA mocks blind man

No matter how often we hear these stories, one after another after another after another, for years now, each new outrage is still infuriating. No matter how low you think the TSA can go, it always goes lower.

Thus we have this story about a blind man named Joe Nerney being mocked and ridiculed by TSA agents — plural — at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. According to this account from WTNH, Nerney says he travels all over the world as a professional musician and that the TSA is usually accommodating. But not this time:

Joe has been blind since birth and he needs to be guided through the security machines, but on Thursday while clearing security at Bradley, the TSA agent was condescending, telling him to stand on the yellow line that he could not see. When he finished the checkpoint, they told him he had to go back in.

“I kind of got pushed back in I still wasn’t stepping on the yellow lines so my friend came in and kind of guided my feet toward the yellow line,” said Nerney.

But it doesn’t end there. It wasn’t just the one sadistic agent who insisted Nerney stand on yellow footprints he obviously couldn’t see. Other TSA agents got in on the action:

On this day as he felt his way out of the machine, he says the TSA agents were mocking him.

“I got out of the machine, but for some reason the TSA guys thought it was funny and they were laughing about it,” said Nerney.

This kind of thing should never happen. I don’t want to hear claims about “a few bad apples” and all the usual garbage that TSA apologists throw out there. Only a sick, twisted, sadistic shit ridicules a disabled person. And you can bet this isn’t the only time these agents have behaved this way. It’s just the only time we happened to find out about it.

How many times do we need to say it? How many instances of abuse — thousands of them, well catalogued — do people need to read before they get it through their heads?

The TSA is an out-of-control, criminal agency that abuses people with impunity. And as long as people keep flying, and keep putting up with this abuse, nothing will change.

TSA: False Premise Theater

Arguments made in support of the TSA are invariably a toxic stew of strawmen, question-begging, and self-refuting premises. This week’s winning pile of gibberish is from the American Federation of Government Employees, which warns on its website that the Atlanta airport may return to “Pre-9/11 Era Airport Security” by dumping smurfs and hiring private security staff.

Pull on a pair of your very tallest boots, cowboys, ’cause we’re about to wade deep into the bullshit.

Most ridiculously, the AFGE – like the TSA officers it represents – insists on dramatizing a job that mostly requires low-status employees with minimal training to make Madge and the kids hold up their hands in submission posture for a silly piece of security magic. Quote:

TSA officers have one of the most stressful jobs in the world.

They are responsible for millions of lives a day. They know that one mistake could lead to a tragedy. Their job is also incredibly dangerous. A bomb in an innocent-looking bag could go off, or an anti-government lunatic could walk up to the check point and open fire, just like what happened at the Los Angeles Airport in 2013 where a TSA officer was killed.

The TSA is almost 15 years old, now, and has had one employee killed on the job. It’s far more dangerous to sell blouses in the suburbs, or to do just about anything else. The most commonly performed functions of the TSA officer — sighing, eye-rolling, petulant shuffling, sullenly smoking cigarettes in front of the airport — are almost perfectly injury-proof, except (over the long term) for the last one.

To be sure, a new killing spree at an airport checkpoint could bring the TSA’s number of violent workplace deaths surging to an average of almost .1 per year, making it, apparently, “incredibly dangerous.” It’s like being a lumberjack, except without the labor or the productivity or the plaid.

And about that “one mistake” that “could lead to a tragedy”: The TSA invariably makes more mistakes than that. People who achieve three successes out of 70 security tests don’t get to brag about how they can’t afford to make a single mistake at work.

Then there are the moments that make you wonder if smurf apologists can use their eyes to read the things their fingers are typing. Getting warmed up, the AFGE first warns of a dark plot to “return airport security to the pre-9/11 era in which screeners were poorly trained and paid.” And then, a few paragraphs later, the same blog post on the same website from the same organization sadly informs readers that “TSA screeners’ average salary is only $32,000 a year. They are among the lowest paid federal employees.”

So you can’t replace TSA officers, because then airport security screenings would be done by poorly paid screeners, which is very dangerous, so you should insist instead on having airport security screenings done by TSA officers, who are poorly paid. Hold the smoke in your lungs when you inhale, and that reasoning will get you high as a kite.

And then, a few sentences later: “When airports are understaffed, screeners often times cannot attend training they’re supposed to go to. They cannot do their jobs properly if they are not trained properly.”

So TSA officers should be replaced by private-sector security employees, who are poorly trained, but the irreplaceable TSA officers are themselves “not trained properly.” I said hold the smoke. No coughing! Hold it! Hold it! (pause) Okay, let it out. How are you feeling?

Equally absurd – on its face, right up front, not in any hard-to-detect way – is the entire premise that the use of private-sector security screeners represents a “return to pre-9/11 era airport security,” since private screeners run checkpoints to standards set and enforced by the TSA.

But whatever. A careful reader could find a dozen more reasons to laugh out loud at the AFGE’s defense of its lowest-status members. Or you could just sigh at how familiar the whole mess has become, and pour yourself another drink.

TSA finally issues “rule” on body scanners, ignores public

On the righthand side of this blog, you’ll see this paragraph:

*2015 *and now 2016* UPDATE: Still no word from TSA on public comments*The public comment period on the TSA’s electronic strip-search scanners and “pat-downs” closed on June 25, 2013. That public comment period had been ordered by the courts, an order the TSA ignored for almost two years before it finally complied. The agency must issue a report on the many thousands (or more?) of comments it received. Yet here it is 2015 *and now 2016* and still no report. If the TSA ever complies with the requirement to issue that report, we’ll let you know.

Well, as of March 2, 2016, the TSA finally — five years late — came out with its final “proposed rule.” Said rule is nothing more than 157 pages of bureaucratic bullshit and obfuscating language that boils down to one thing: The TSA will continue using the strip-search scanners, as they already have been doing anyway since 2009, whether you like it or not. 

More succinctly: screw you.

If you want to plow through all the verbiage, have at it. Or you could read summaries at EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center), at CEI (Competitive Enterprise Institute), or at crusader Jon Corbett’s blog.

The gist is the same: the TSA will continue to do what it wants, where it wants, how it wants, no matter how many pesky rights and Constitutional amendments get in the way. Oh, and it will continue to grope you.

TSA goons steal woman’s shoes, bracelet at BWI

In the never-ending saga of TSA theft and stupidity — and did I say theft? — we have the latest episode (that we know of): at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, the goons spied yet another tasty treat they wanted to sample. So they pretended that said items were dangerous and confiscated them — er, sorry, encouraged the passenger to give them up. (As we know, since they tell us all the time, especially at their main propaganda organ, they don’t confiscate anything.) From the story in the Baltimore Sun:

The shoes, which had stiletto heels in the shape of handgun barrels and also featured what looked like bullets, were in the woman’s carry-on luggage, TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said.

Readers of this blog will recall that in 2013 the TSA also stole a pair of Chanel shoes, a two-inch toy gun belonging to a sock monkey, and in 2014 several bottles of Jimmy Choo perfume.

These scary terroristy things could’ve harmed you and your fellow travelers! Aren’t you glad the TSA is Keeping You Safe?!

Regular readers will also recognize the name of Lisa Farbstein as yet another of the TSA’s many lying flacks.

“We want to remind travelers that they should not bring replica guns or ammunition to checkpoints,” Farbstein said in an email. “It will definitely slow them down, slow down their traveling companions who are waiting for them, and it will slow down the checkpoint lines for other travelers.”

Way to blame it on the passengers, Farbstein.

Here’s the comment I left at the Baltimore Sun article. Go on over and give it some love, and add comments of your own, before they remove it:

  • Lisa Simeone

This agency is full of molesters and morons. (Let’s see how long this comment is allowed to stand.) Everyone who defends this criminal agency deserves what he gets, and, paraphrasing Mencken, I hope he gets it good and hard.

They wanted to steal her shoes and bracelet; that’s why they stopped her. And if you don’t know the TSA steals from travelers all the time, you have your head somewhere other than where it should be. The TSA confiscated a 2-inch toy gun from a sock monkey:
http://tsanewsblog.com/12236/news/tsa-seizes-terroristy-sock-monkey-confiscates-gun/

And they stole another women’s shoes, again because they wanted them:
http://tsanewsblog.com/11216/news/tsa-outdoing-its-own-stupidity-at-every-turn/

They’ve also stolen several perfume bottles because they were supposedly shaped like — gasp! — a grenade. But yeah, it’s all for your safety. And to fight The Terrorists who are Hiding Around Every Corner!

(Photo courtesy of your tax dollars)

Cross-posted at ABombazine

UPDATE ALREADY: Not 10 minutes later, the Sun censored my comment. Surprise surprise!

Frederick Douglass wouldn’t have put up with the TSA

Great American orator, scholar, and abolitionist Frederick Douglass was born sometime in February of 1818 and died on this date, February 20th, in 1895. Among the many brilliant, fiery speeches he gave and essays he wrote, no lines have been more often excerpted and quoted than these, which apply today every bit as much as they did in his time. I’ve quoted them often, but never enough. So it’s fitting that I take this opportunity to commemorate him and do it again:

“The general sentiment of mankind is that a man who will not fight for himself, when he has the means of doing so, is not worth being fought for by others, and this sentiment is just. For a man who does not value freedom for himself will never value it for others, or put himself to any inconvenience to gain it for others. Such a man, the world says, may lie down until he has sense enough to stand up . . .

“If there is no struggle there is no progress . . . This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

I think we’ve found exactly out what people in this country are willing to quietly submit to. They demonstrate it every day.