As I wrote earlier this month, TSA incompetence and stupidity — combined with American populace passivity — are causing thousands of people to miss their flights. The amount of time travelers are supposed to allow to get through airport security keeps ballooning — from one hour to two hours to, now, three hours before their flights. And that’s for domestic flights, mes amis, not just international ones.
Yet despite the copious coverage of this insanity, people keep flying. They not only keep flying, they’re increasing their flying. They keep planning vacations, they keep taking trips they don’t have to take, they keep putting up with being abused, and they keep complaining — just read the comments at Jonathan Turley’s post on this. Yet they will do nothing to resist.
Guess things must not be so bad.
I’ve said it a thousand times before, and I’ll say it again: unless you’re forced to travel for work or for a family/medical emergency, you don’t have to fly. You’re choosing to fly. You’re choosing to risk missing your flight. You’re choosing to be treated like cattle to the slaughter. Your behavior is telling the airlines and the TSA that you’re pefectly content to be abused.
When people get what they ask for, I don’t see how they can be surprised.
Because the level of ignorance and stupidity in this country can never be overestimated, we have the latest incidence of one of America’s fine upstanding citizens displaying her intellectual acumen for all to see. And supposed airline professionals going along with her. True, this didn’t involve the TSA, but we can easily see how the stupidity and paranoia exhibited by that organization — and constantly hyped by our “security” overlords — has spread to the population at large.
Professor: flight was delayed because my equation raised terror fears American Airlines says woman expressed suspicion about University of Pennsylvania economics professor, who was solving a differential equation
Menzio, who is Italian and has curly, dark hair, told the Associated Press he initially “thought they were trying to get clues about her illness.”
“Instead, they tell me that the woman was concerned that I was a terrorist because I was writing strange things on a pad of paper.”
He told the Washington Post that he was “treated respectfully throughout” the process but remains perturbed by a system that “relies on the input of people who may be completely clueless”.
Completely clueless? Well, that’s half the American population right there.
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?
All analysis about the TSA eventually becomes the very same analysis, because the core of what the agency does never changes. Nor does the news media’s relentlessly credulous approach to covering the agency. After a while, you can just put new names into the template: 2016 is 2014 is 2012, and TSA Director Peter Neffenger is just the Dumb and Dumber sequel to Fifty Shades of John Pistole. The latest example comes from CBS News, which just offered a breathless report on the TSA’s new national training academy.
Something new? Don’t be fooled. The new academy is a response to the TSA’s spectacularly high failure rate during “red team” testing. The agency’s smurfs used to “train” on the job at airport checkpoints, but now “train” at a single, national facility. Take a moment to watch the video: TSA officers are still TSA officers, slack-jawed mouthbreathers (in a GED-optional job) who mindlessly repeat empty slogans about the dangers and challenges of Thedala Mageeing septuagenarian crotches and sobbing toddler bodies.
And the training is still the training: A trainer points at an x-ray screen, for example, and asks a trainee: “Do you see anything prohibited in that bag?” But instead of pointing at an x-ray screen and asking a trainee, “Do you see anything prohibited in that bag?” at a local airport, the trainer now points at an x-ray screen and asks a trainee, “Do you see anything prohibited in that bag?” at a national facility.
It’s totally different, man! It’s more nationaler. It’s like if the bagger at the Piggly Wiggly flew to a different city to learn how to put eggs in a bag — that training just got mega-advanced, because it’s in a different location.
Oh, and the academy’s standards? The training course is two weeks long. It’s like medical school, really, except that it’s almost exactly four years shorter. It’s like the initial portion of military basic training where you learn which bunk is yours and where the dining hall is and how to kind of not fall down when you march in a formation. Two solid weeks of hardcore study — it’s the gold standard of professional development, just a few steps below Hamburger University.
The best part of the report is the sit-down interview with Neffenger, who responds to a question about the likelihood that smurfs trained at the new national facility will now succeed at the red team testing with a confidence-inspiring, “I don’t know if we can catch everything. I sure hope we can catch all of them.”
For the first time, nearly 15 years after the formation of the TSA, the agency’s new national training program brings airport security all the way up to the standards of gosh, we really hope this works.
Asked for a specific number to describe the success rate of screening procedures under the agency’s new training protocols, Neffenger falls back on the dodge that will forever be the TSA’s favorite accountability maneuver: He can’t answer the question, because then the terrorists will know. “I’d rather not say publicly,” he says, literally averting his eyes from the interviewer like a parody of a mediocre conman. That’s the agency we’ve all come to know and love.
And now its wanna-be cops can talk about their days “in the academy,” like the wannabe-cops they will forever be. The transition of our nation’s airport gropers toward fake law-enforcement status shambles another slovenly step forward, while the smurfs go on doing the same theatrical nothing for yet another idiot director. Save that last sentence — it’s an evergreen.
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.”
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.”
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.
Do go over to Jim Bovard’s column at the Washington Times not only to read about his recent TSA experience (he and I have been in touch by email for a few years), but also to read the comment thread, where we have this wondrous gem of Aristotelian logic and Platonic beauty. It’s brought to you by “Harry Huntington”:
It is unfortunate that just as we face a heightened risk for terrorism this paper displays poor judgment to print an unsupported attack on TSA. TSA is one of the most effective agencies in the US government. How do we know this: since TSA was started there have been zero terrorist attacks on US airlines. That result is amazing. If planes were being bombed and hijacked there would be some reason to complain. That is not happening. We should be grateful that TSA is as good as it is and ask TSA to be even more vigilant. We also should consider using TSA to check all other forms of mass transit in the US: trains and busses. We likely also should use TSA to screen all cars traveling across state lines.
“TSA is one of the most effective agencies in the US government.”
Ha ha ha ha! Thank you, bless you, for giving me a hearty laugh this morning. I won’t bother presenting all the years’ worth of empirical evidence proving you wrong, because plenty of research shows that empirical evidence only causes people to dig their heels in further. I will only repost your comment far and wide so that others may share the joy.
I urge you all to pile on. (Warning that the page is full of annoying pop-up ads).
UPDATE: Honestly, I can’t tell anymore if “Harry” is serious or pulling our leg. After looking through his Disqus profile, I could go either way. But I think he’s being sarcastic. So hats off to you, Harry, and apologies for taking you seriously. You have to understand that we run into people all the time who would like nothing better than to expand the TSA and institute searches outside our front doors. And they’re not being sarcastic.
Anybody who thinks the TSA is doing anything to prevent an attack needs his head examined (but hey, that’s only about half the population of the U.S.). While they’re confiscating breast milk, peanut butter, perfume, and cupcakes, strip-searching Granny, and sticking their hands down your pants, they’re letting loaded weapons on planes. This isn’t the first time, and it sure as hell won’t be the last:
Security officials are frantically trying to discover how a retired long distance trucker accidentally managed to take a fully loaded semi-automatic handgun on to a crowded flight from America’s busiest airport.
Blake Alford didn’t realize what he had done until he got to his hotel room after his flight from Atlanta to Chicago, but now wants to know how Transportation Security Agency staff let him through security and on to the Southwest Airlines plane.
The incident occurred less than a week after a Russian plane flying out of Egypt was blown out of the sky, killing all 224 people on board. The terrorist group ISIS has claimed responsibility for that attack.
‘How could the TSA not have spotted it?’ Alford, 67, said in an exclusive interview with Daily Mail Online. ‘Especially as it was just a few days after the Russian plane blew up.’
But wait, it gets better. The gun was not only loaded, it was loaded with hollow-point bullets. Because, dontchyaknow, everyone needs a gun, at all times, loaded with hollow-point bullets, no less. After all, this is ‘Murica!
Alford is so responsible that he forgets he has a loaded gun in his carry-on. Yep, there’s maturity and responsibility in action! I bet he likes to give lectures to others on “American values.”
It was only when Alford and his party reached their hotel room in Chicago that he realized his Ruger .380 semi-automatic pistol was in his backpack, fully loaded with seven hollow point bullets.
‘My immediate thought was “Oh, Mother-of-God, what have I done”,’ Alford, who lives in Jonesboro, Georgia, 15 miles south of Atlanta, told Daily Mail Online.
Other passengers have been arrested — and jailed — for far less. But this guy waltzes on through and poses for the camera with his little buddy.
What does the TSA have to say about all this?
TSA national spokesman Mike England told Daily Mail Online the department is investigating what went wrong. ‘When our employees fail to meet standards, we hold them appropriately accountable,’ he said.
Yeah, you do that. We’ve seen how the TSA holds its employees accountable.
The Intercept has another article about the lunacies of the TSA. Jana Winter is the reporter covering the TSA over there, and she has an inside track to agency employees who feed her bits of information, including this latest: glossy, bi-monthly newsletters that highlight the yuckety-yuk jokes, clever quips, heartwarming tales, and literary pretensions of the blue-shirted crusaders. And not just any blue-shirted crusaders, mind you, but the hallowed voodoo readers, otherwise known as “Behavior Detection Officers.”
The name of the the newsletter is “BDOs in Motion.”
As you would expect, the pages are full of conformist corporate-speak about “team-building” and “reliability” and “individualized skill-sets” (nobody has skills anymore; they all have “skill-sets”). But also more charming entries such as “Surviving the Snow in Bangor, Maine.”
Hey, baby, your tax dollars at work.
There’s too much idiocy to excerpt; you can take a look for yourself. Oh, and notice how all the names and faces have been redacted. As someone in the comments has pointed out, why? If the TSA is so proud of its workforce and its (zillion-times-discredited) BDO program, why shield these people?
Speaking of comments, go on over to the Intercept and scroll through. There’s the usual complement of TSA apologists — Anything For Safety!™ — such as “General Hercules” and “Chico” (oy, what a pill). But, praise be, there are also a lot of readers excoriating the TSA and cataloguing its abuses. You might want to chime in.
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?
In another repetitive story about the TSA’s failings, a “confidential” DHS report shows what many previous DHS and GAO reports have already shown, have been showing for years: the TSA misses prohibited items all the time. As a matter of course. From the Chicago Tribune:
ABC News first reported Monday that undercover agents were able to smuggle prohibited items, such as mock explosives or weapons, through TSA checkpoints in 67 out of 70 attempts. ABC cited anonymous officials who had been briefed on the inspector general’s report.
This story is nothing new. We’ve publicized the earlier DHS and GAO reports many times. This latest report is noteworthy merely for the percentage — 67 out of 70 — which is slightly higher than what the Red Teams have been finding all along.
More important than the farce of airport security, however, is another familiar story: knives, razor blades, inert grenades, knitting needles, hockey sticks, scissors, lighters, sunscreen, shampoo — none of these things are going to bring down a plane.
And so acting chief Melvin Carraway, who temporarily replaced Molester-in-Chief John Pistole earlier this year, is now being “re-assigned.” Who cares? Another goon will take his place. And none of the TSA’s practices will change. The proven-to-be-worthless scanners will remain. Knives, knitting needles, scissors, etc. will still get through. People will still be bullied, harassed, robbed, and assaulted to get on a plane. If anything, the groping will increase.
Go over to that Chicago Tribune article and read the comments section. Most of it is the usual cesspool of inane “Red Team! Blue Team!” sniping, with a dollop of race-baiting thrown in for good measure. A few people get it — that the National Security State in general and the TSA in particular are meant as forms of social control. But most people, as usual, are either mired in their own muddy political ideologies or afraid of The Big Bad Terrorists Hiding Around Every Corner™ .