@AskTSA Week 6 – How do dogs speed up TSA screening?

There are no screen shots of @AskTSA comments this week because 90% of comments from @AskTSA are in response to the growing number of complaints about long lines and lack of Pre-Check lanes.

There have been questions about hair pat-downs of women of color whom, in spite of an agreement with the ACLU, the TSA still seems to profile.

There have also been complaints about the scanners alarming on crotches. Two people complained that they get crotch pat-downs every single time they fly. There was no indication, however, about whether they might have been transgender passengers, which could explain the alarms. Then again, since the scanners alarm on seams, pleats, and sweat, as we have pointed out hundreds of times, who knows?

There were a couple of comment about the fact that @AskTSA is unwilling to give direct “Yes” or “No” answers to questions. We all know that’s standard operating procedure for the TSA. Gotta keep those terrorists guessing!

One of the standard responses from @AskTSA to questions about long lines is:

We’re working to address the volume by increasing use of canines, encouraging TSA Pre✓® enrollment & accelerating hiring.

How does increasing the use of dogs speed up the screening process? There don’t seem to be any reports of passengers who pass the “sniff” test being moved to PreCheck lanes, so if someone could explain to me how it works, I’d appreciate it.

And by the way, as we’ve also explained umpteen times, dogs are no panacea.

As for “accelerating hiring,” the TSA allegedly has plans to hire 800 more screeners. But a quick perusal of USAJobs, where TSA openings are advertised, shows no openings for TSA screeners in Chicago, Atlanta, or New York/New Jersey, areas that are seeing some of the the biggest lines and longest delays.

There are two openings for trainers at the “training academy” in Georgia, however.

In other TSA news, it’s been reported that 35% of newly hired screeners leave the agency in their first year of employment.

Until next week . . . .

TSA: Morons on Parade Episode 3,867

A recent tweet, brought to you by the brilliant minds of the TSA:

Agent [email protected]Apr 14

ADVISORY: #TSA RECOGNIZES PASSENGERS WHO MISS FLIGHTS DUE TO SECURITY LINES AS “MAKING HEROIC SACRIFICE FOR FREEDOM.”

There you have it — you’re making a heroic sacrifice for freedom!

Don’t you feel better already?

(Okay, the tweet is technically satirical, but it reads exactly like something the TSA would say. They say stupid shit all the time. Read on.)

This tweet was in response to the fact that thousands of people all over the country are missing their flights because the security lines are so long. But hey, all you have to do is arrive earlier. Then, when you’re all massed together at the checkpoint like sitting ducks, you can feel secure that if a bomb goes off there, the dead won’t be as dead as if it goes off on a plane, because — well, logic!

Keep flying, people. Keep rewarding the airlines and keep putting up with this abuse. After all, what do you have to lose?

@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?

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 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.

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.

Ask TSA

As TSA News readers know, the Transportation Security Administration has a nifty new “training academy” in Glynco, Georgia. Supposedly all new TSA hires from across the country, including Hawaii and Alaska, will attend this academy for two weeks of training (replacing the current four weeks of in-house local airport training), and all current TSA employees will be sent for additional training. Chris Bray wrote about it here.

My first thought was, how much is this going to cost taxpayers? My second thought: There’s no way the TSA is going to be able to train its employees to be efficient.

So I went to the TSA’s Twitter page, @AskTSA (where, by the way, I have been banned and had my First Amendment rights violated for speaking the truth), and began to compile a list of complaints about screeners’ actions in an attempt to show how much work the TSA needs to do to clean up its act.

(Then again, my colleague Lisa Simeone has been compiling a Master List of TSA Crimes and Abuses for years, and it hasn’t made a bit of difference.)

The complaints come in so fast on @AskTSA, I can hardly keep up with them. Comments come from both men and women:

THE PAT DOWN WAS THE MOST HORRIFIC THING I’VE EVER BEEN THOUGH IN MY LIFE!!!! Thx

Apparently if your crotch area lights up in airport security, you get a VERY AGGRESSIVE frisking. Many might say “sexual harassment”

wow, just had a most UNpleasant experience w 2 of your peops at #CLT airport. Utter lack of professionalism.

but FYI @TSA employee Carew at JFK = rude, unprofessional, dismissed request for help b/c 1 minute past her break

The scan plus opt-out pat downs seem egregious. Note I’m flying as my legal name, with a court order, my new temp license and old photo ID. I was asked twice whether I wanted a private screening but was scared to go to a non-public area.

My wife is TSA Pre✓ but got stopped for 45 min w/ our 9 month old for a stroller inspection & missed her

Wow. Invasive pat down by @tsa while trying to get my 7 wk old through security. Agent needs training before working w/ public.

Opting out of the @TSA body-scanner is getting harder with every flight. It took 15 minutes to find someone to do the pat-down.

glad your workers find it more productive to congregate and talk about weekend party plans than depreciating the lines @ EWR

Why do you constantly employ terribly rude employees at EWR? Specifically terminal C

thanks for taking my wife’s ice pack that was keeping her 3 days worth of #breastmilk from spoiling!

Somehow got through TSA at the airport with the wrong plane tickets, apparently my name is “Tanesha Brown” now… Doing your job well TSA

@TSA staff is out of control in FLL and PHL. #rude #unintelligent #unapologetic #vengeful goons is the best way to describe them

Can’t wait to get home and shower after being raped through my clothes at @iah by @TSA #TotallyViolated #Veteran #Raped by #TSA

How can I trust that your machines protect me if they report that my maxi pad is in my pocket? (TSA’s reply: We suggest you remove items from your pockets prior to the screening process. Completely missed the subtlety of the comment.)

why are your staff so mean and rude? There’s no need for it.

Disgusted by @TSA ineptitude in Terminal C at EWR: long security line, one lane open, five agents doing nothing!

After passing thought agent Wayne @ ATL international checkpoint, patted down roughly w/o warning. I felt humiliated & violated.

Had a lovely time at @IFlyOAKland yesterday, having my $140 @oakley sunglasses stolen off the conveyor while @TSA groped me!

Some really cheerful and pleasant agents in Portland, ME today /sarcasm

suggestion: provide more personnel for Pre at EWR! I paid money to use Pre there but it never seems to be open.

Why are my 9″ knitting needles allowed in my carry on but a 7″ specialty screwdriver I need for work is not?

Can we take another look at precheck process at EWR? It is a fiasco – long lines, still have to take everything out, not efficient.

why does Newark EWR NEVER have a pre check line open for the A gates????? What did I pay for?

The following from O’Hare:

“the security in terminal 3 this morning is unacceptable. 90+ min wait has hundreds missing flights
TSA’s response: We suggest arriving two hours prior to your flight during holiday weekends and peak travel times

Thanks. Did that. Security total wait was 1hr 55 minutes. One imaging machines for thousands of people will do that But I hope you have a good day, that way at least one of us will. Thousands here are miserable.”

Arrived an hour & 20 mins early for my flight at the truly dire @fly2ohare and STILL missed my flight thanks to @TSA! Looked like a war zone

Another insightful conversation with TSA on :

“destroyed my TSA lock. Do you all give out new ones or are these considered disposable?”

TSA response: We’re sorry to hear this, Philip. We can’t guarantee locks will never be lost or damaged during the screening process.

but you have keys for the locks right?”

youve got ALL priority access & TSA pre-check lines closed on a Saturday of a holiday wknd? What gives?

When can I expect someone to come open our suitcase for us? We didn’t lock it. Just saw a male @TSA agent interrogate a scared 5-year-old girl at the MSP airport. I feel so much safer already…

your workers at HSV were many. Check on the manager’s efficacy. There wasn’t enough personnel to support a TSA precheck line. I mentioned that a manager should be asked. They searched both my luggage and my husbands in retaliation. Childish TSA!!

AGAIN @AskTSA ??! #chs #tsaprecheck #closed EVERY TIME I repeat: Point of service is to skip line, stay dressed and not unpack the bag. None of those happen when closed, expedited or not

why do you keep not securing my protein powder lids and ruining all my clothes?

If your agent is going to grope me post scan I would like a warning and ask if I have sensitive areas before manhandling me at LAS

When the @TSA guy says, “Well, aren’t you a cute thing.” Ewwwww. #iamnotathing #creep

My mom loved getting told by your @tsa agent,Aloha,that she didnt want to touch her.Costumer service leaves something2 b desired

Just submitted an online complaint to @TSA. They dumped sand into my suitcase when they inspected it – a lot of sand. Professional?

you might have the most incompetent group of people to ever be under one roof working for you in #STL; so you train your employees to stand around with their arms folded telling jokes in the name the name of security? Sounds smart.

people are bypassing security by going through an unmanned checkpoint. No boarding pass scans, just going straight through.

EWR with 1 person working the security checkpoint, 9 standing around doing nothing.

Just want to say thank you for randomly pillaging my luggage today, dumping out various medications, and leaving my computer….bag open for my shower gel to leak into. It was very thoughtful for u to leave a note stating u can do that w/ no liability.

No “training academy” will be able to correct the behaviors and attitudes of TSA screeners exposed by the comments above.

Editor’s Note: By the way, if you ever want to file an official complaint about your treatment at the hands of the TSA, which we urge you to do, here’s the link to the official form at the DHS Office of Inspector General:

https://www.oig.dhs.gov/hotline/hotline.php

(Graphic courtesy of your tax dollars)

TSA abuse/idiocy compendium, thanks to FTTUSA

Because the same stories of TSA abuse, corruption, and stupidity keep accumulating, and because it seems increasingly pointless to highlight them one by one, here’s a round-up of such stories from the past week or so, courtesy of Freedom to Travel USA. From FTTUSA’s weekly newsletter, quote:

The TSA is at the airports, the football field and at local transit locations.  Can we say “everywhere”?

“More than 100 additional officers and specialists are being deployed to assist in security operations at Oakland International Airport (OAK), San Francisco International Airport (SFO), and Mineta San José International Airport (SJC) for the influx of fans traveling for the game. In addition to transportation security officers, TSA is deploying more than two dozen passenger screening canine teams, behavior detection and analysis officers, transportation security specialists, explosives and transportation security inspectors.”

https://www.tsa.gov/news/top-stories/2016/02/05/tsa-provides-security-support-super-bowl-50

“The goal is to provide a visible presence to detect and deter terrorism because the Super Bowl on Sunday is a national security event, TSA officials said at a news conference in San Francisco today.”

http://sfappeal.com/2016/02/heightened-security-present-on-transit-systems-for-super-bowl-week/

Additionally, the TSA is now on the campaign trail!  “. . . the presence of the TSA at a political event is extremely concerning, considering the fact that such an event has absolutely nothing to do with transportation.”

http://www.activistpost.com/2016/02/tsa-conducting-bag-checks-at-donald-trump-event.html

More taxpayer losses at the hands of the TSA. Take a look at the data:

https://atlas.qz.com/charts/VyQKMYhFx

Having employees going through security should have been the first line/layer of defense.  Neffenger said that his agency, “is also working more closely with the FBI to put airport workers and vendors through recurring criminal background checks.”  He added that those who hold credentials to enter sterile areas of airline terminals will also be subject to stepped up physical screening as well.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/02/03/tsa-chief-says-agency-significantly-better-than-were.html

TSA is “taking suggestions on how to improve security lines”.

http://www.voicesofliberty.com/article/tsa-no-more-entrepreneurial-place-than-the-tsa/

Thank you for your support!  Remember – always opt out of nude body scanners and file a complaint at www.tsa.gov.

Best regards,

Freedom to Travel USA

Renee Beeker, Jeff Pierce, and Wendy Thomson

Co-Founders, Freedom to Travel USA

http://fttusa.org

Update on Sai’s TSA lawsuits

Our friend Sai sent me an update on his case this morning. If you’re not already familiar with his story, read this post to get caught up. Here’s Sai’s update in his own words:

The BDOs selected me because I was mute and wearing a satirical shirt; they screened me for 40 minutes looking almost exclusively at my prescription labels, notes, checkbook, books, etc; they ripped paper out of my hands (literally depriving me of speech) in admitted retaliation for my protesting the illegality of their search and refusing to answer questions.

(The admission can be found both in the BDOs’ notes and TSA’s formal response to my complaint & appeal.)

I’m probably never going to manage to get around to making an actual edited video, so I’ve put up what I have. That includes the video, BDOs’ notes, my notes, complaint, post-litigation response, appeal, & appeal response. At some point I’ll try to condense it there as well, but I don’t really have the energy to do so now and likely won’t for a while. :-/ Hopefully the complaint & appeal are pretty straightforward.

You can read in more detail about Sai’s lawsuit at his comprehensive site, also here, also here; and you can see his videos here.