Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A short note on airport security 

Every now and then I am reminded how different my attitudes are from the average dude. The controversy over the airport security scanners is a case in point. Of all the stupid sham security rules imposed in the cause of air security in the last thirty years, the fear that somebody might see and even retain a shimmery Silver Surfer silhouette of my 48 year old bod just isn't one of them. I would happily walk through one of those things if I could keep my shoes on, carry on fluids in normal sizes, leave my belt on and my coins in my pocket, and natter on in great good humor about the C4 strapped to my love handles. That would be an awesome trade. But all this sudden sturm und drang, after years of indignities, over these silhouettes? I really don't get it. Maybe one of you can explain it to me.


By Anonymous Mike Landfair, at Wed Nov 17, 01:16:00 AM:

I could care if they see my junk. as long as they don't show my face. Throw the images around, just don't show my face.  

By Blogger OregonJon, at Wed Nov 17, 01:29:00 AM:


I get it. The outrage is not about the images but it is about the ham-handed politically correct way TSA handles airport security. Grandma has knitting needles confiscated, ten-year olds get pulled aside for the full going over and the flying imams rake in thousands of dollars for the indignities they "suffered." Adding images on top of all the rest is just too damn much. Effective security comes from profiling likely suspects and treating them differently than the rest. Ask El Al.  

By Anonymous E Hines, at Wed Nov 17, 07:38:00 AM:

Part of your sturm und drang is generated by the manner of presentation of this means of "security."

This is a "security" technique forced on us by a fundamentally dishonest Homeland Security that considers that any veteran who disagrees with the present administration might be a right wing extremist who's a national security threat. Further, "selling" this "security" technique by telling us that it's this way or the terrorists get in unchecked is a dishonestly presented false dichotomy. Of course there are other means of security screening than engaging in behaviors that if anyone other than someone wearing a badge did them would result in arrest. If there are no other means, let the high and mighty prove it. Let's hear of the alternatives that were tried and why they were rejected. Let's hear of ongoing research into the matter. Let's hear why Homeland Security is spending so much resources on air travel to the exclusion of all other modes of moving people and goods.

That some don't care about "shimmery...silhouettes" doesn't mean that others don't. Privacy concerns are legitimate, no matter how dismissively they're treated.

And Napolitano says "Look, everybody has a role to play. And if people don't want to play that role, if they want to travel by some other means, of course that's their right. This is the United States...." Of course we can. TSA only cares about air travel. Cargo shipping, surface transportation all go uninspected--to our very great risk, as a recent attack via cargo aircraft demonstrates. What wonderful advice to terrorists by the head of Homeland Security.

If Homeland Security were more honest, and less dismissive of legitimate concerns, there'd be a lot less outcry against what seems like, in Tyner's terms, sexual molestation as a precondition for flying.

Eric Hines  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Wed Nov 17, 08:21:00 AM:

Yeah, Eric and OregonJon, I think that's right. Good explanations.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Wed Nov 17, 09:17:00 AM:

1) We had one Shoe Bomber, so now our shoes get searched.

2) We had one Underwear Bomber, so now we have these new-fangled screeners.

3) If the next would-be bomber hides key parts up his anus, what will Janet Napolitano come up with next?

Note that plots #1 and #2 were foiled by passengers and crew, with no federal help. Recall that the father of Plotter 2 went to the USA embassy to warn of us of his son, but nothing got done.

The new screeners are very expensive -- I heard $100,000 each -- and cost more than that each year to run. The initial purchase was out of the free money of Stimulus. Former Homeland Security Head Michael Chertoff was a lobbyist consultant.

I look at this Rorschach ink blot and see imbecility, innefectiveness and even corruption. What do you see?

There's a lot of populist outrage brewing. This is adding to it. Let's see if we have a collective Mad As Hell Moment on Nov 24.  

By Anonymous Dennis, at Wed Nov 17, 10:00:00 AM:

I would think that, as a lawyer, the issue of probable cause might raise some red flags to you. Would you feel o.k. if a cop on the beat pulled you over and patted you down? I'm not a lawyer, but I was under the impression that the fourth amendment applied to each of us individually, not society as a whole. The very fact that this bunch of dumbasses is considering letting burqua-clad women escape the whole drill is prima facie evidence that they don't take it seriously themselves. As most everyone I've read and talked to has said, it's kabuki theater and for what reason I don't know.  

By Blogger Mac from Michigan, at Wed Nov 17, 10:16:00 AM:

Tigerhawk - I too also get it. If they want to look, well fine except it's gonna be like looking for a button on a fur coat.

The larger issue for me, as a recent throat and 2x skin ca survivor is the radiation. My doc highly suggested that I avoid sun and even the annual dental x-rays, from this point forward. I'll take her recommendations over some TSA official, thank you very much.

OregonJon posted a comment regarding the highly effective El Al screen procedures. While that would be great to see in place over here, there are some serious metrics to address:

El Al has (I may be off by four or five) a total of about 40 planes. Total. Very few airports they service. They fly (again, figures a bit sketchy) about 3.5 million pax per year.

All US air carriers combined (around 20) make 25,000 flights_per_day. Someone extrapolated it out to be 1.5 pax _per_day.

Another way to look at it, is in three days, the US carriers surpass all the passengers handled in a year by El Al.
If you think TSA is overstaffed and expensive now, just think about how large they would have to be, how long the lines would be, and how much the tickets would cost if they did put that type of security in place.  

By Blogger Progressively Defensive, at Wed Nov 17, 10:50:00 AM:

A relative told me you have to go through similar hassles AND do the scan; and in any case it does not save that much time.

Here's the thing, 50,000 people die each year on the highways; you could easily bomb Amtrak trains, too; anyway, it all seems like the most actuarially ridiculous use of resources and time (the most precious) to save so few lives. We could profile statistically (even if it touches at the fringes of ethnic profiling arguably) and relax to 1970s standards.

But I don't care either; the US soldier goes through horror to defend us, this is trivial for the same purpose so whatever is required to keep the airways safe I'll do happily to the limit of reason and beyond.  

By Blogger Progressively Defensive, at Wed Nov 17, 10:57:00 AM:

Another point ...

... have the Muslim terrorists won by causing us to do this? I guess not. It is a salute to the USA that we care so much about our citizens that we look out for them to this extent whereas the Muslim terrorists kill their own, men, women, and children. It's an economic defeat, but an ethical victory and I think the latter infinitely more empowering in our battle. But it stings to have to go through this because, what, 100 men decided to concoct the 9/11 scheme; the bane of our existence for as long as civilization has existed is this: terrorism works.  

By Anonymous JT, at Wed Nov 17, 11:30:00 AM:

My friend's son rushed the cockpit in Shanksville. I was invited to that wedding. Good kid.

Following it, he told me that he'd met in the Oval Office a number of times, lobbying for things like locks on cockpit doors. He told me what I'd not thought about ... airlines move freight for profit, not so much humans. So, shortly after 911 we took felons and other low-end wage earners from 1099 and crap wage jobs tossing suitcases, and made them federal employees. We've taken the greasy haired loser and given him a job of authority with a uniform hassling air travelers. We have little or no security on the tarmac, and don't xray all the freight.

And yet, with only a few events in air (reid and panty bomber), we now have these aholes capable of pawing our daughters or sons, our 'junk', or wives or girlfriend or mom, and for what?

I've been hassled over my DL by a guy with a neck tat, which I think means gang membership. I wait while some idiot tries to figure out what's in the image of my bag, and meanwhile, after this illusion of security, increased travel costs, delays, etc. nothing really has improved air safety.

That's the point. I don't need a fully body scan. I don't need someone squeezing my balls. I'm a known quantity, and not a threat. Focus on 'profiling' the threats - they're gang members, radical Muslims, etc.  

By Anonymous GaryS, at Wed Nov 17, 12:39:00 PM:

OK, so you don't mind. I get it. But how about your wife, your 12 year old daughter, your 4 year old son? How about it being done by somebody with a history of rape and molestation? How about a mental cretin on a power trip to get even with "whitey"? How about the sheer stupidity of it all?

In addition, as any thinking person can see, this just "security theater" (kudos to whoever thought that up!). I can sit near the screening area and figure out ten ways of getting around these morons, and in fact, out of boredom, I have.

But most important of all, Muslims get a pass and 80 year old silver haired grandmas, nuns, 3 year old children, Army generals in full dress uniform, etc., etc get their private parts felt up. This is a surpassing level of stupidity, even for for the government.

I had enough of this three years ago. As a self-employed consultant, I no longer accept work that requires me to fly. This costs me a little income, but then I also pay less taxes to the bastards. Screw them! And if I can't get there by car in two days, I'm not going.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Wed Nov 17, 12:52:00 PM:

I think that the American people are willing to put up with some inconvenience to avoid "profiling". We have been pushing the inconvenience envelope and now it has been crossed.

You can complain about radiation exposure...but the scatter scanners emit a dose equivalent to 1/1000 that of a standard chest x-ray. That's trivial unless you are an albino.

You can complain about the "nudity" issues, but our society's tolerance for that has come a long way since the days of streaking.

No, I think we are all just plain fed up with what has been referred to as "Security Theater".

Making the TSA a federal agency was hotly debated when the idea was first proposed. Democrats pushed it through and now we have a massive, largely ineffective tin-pot army, 67000 "strong", who are instructed not to profile the most likely culprits and have no training on how to ferret our the likely suspects.

It is a sham. We put up with it because we considered it our civic duty...but they have simply "jumped the shark".

With Republicans back in the saddle on the Transportation Committee, hopefully the legal option of "opting out" the TSA will be exercised by more airports in favor of professional organizations who really know how to enforce security.

Basically, if you want to wear your burka on the plane and dont want to get checked, you'd better have good shoes.  

By Anonymous OLD FAN, at Wed Nov 17, 12:52:00 PM:

Interesting reads above, however it seems most of this intrusion could be simply avoided with an aggressive offense - as the Bush Administration provided.

Yes, this includes profiling.

After 9-11, I don't know of any case of international terrorism, not related to a Muslim Extreme. I could just have missed it.

Waterboarding vs. targeting the entire world populace?

The answer to the question in my opinion is rather simple.

This is a Homeland Security Secretary who could not even reference "terrorism". She is a man made disaster herself. This is the same Administration which basically tried to tell the American Public Terrorism wasn't a genuine threat - mimicking a campaign theme by Democrats.

In fact, it was Democrat Partisans who actually believed Terrorism would go away, as soon as a Democrat would be elected to the Presidency - instead Domestic US Terrorism has increased.

Now the Democratic Partisans are invading the privacy of Americans far more than the Republican Administration ever dreamed of, even though they were unfairly charged of doing just that.

It could not be more ironic.

The Democratic Partisan denial is turning into another disaster for them in political terms - just like when the Clintons foolishly treated Radical Muslim Terrorism as a mere law enforcement issue.

"Smart Power" continues to be a joke.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Nov 17, 01:36:00 PM:

Following up what Gary said...

"As the TSA agent was frisking plaintiff, the agent pulled the plaintiff’s blouse completely down, exposing plaintiffs’ breasts to everyone in the area... TSA workers continued to laugh and joke about the incident... One male TSA employee expressed to the plaintiff that he wished he would have been there when she came through the first time and that ‘he would just have to watch the video,’” the suit said."

Merely by entering an area, which the federal government does not own by the way, you're forced to submit to physical and invasive searches without consent? Or a warrant? Or even probable cause? Without the option to leave? That these searches have a sexual element (as the plaintiff in the case above discovered) makes it worse.

This is the constructive institutionalization of sexual assault in the name of 'security,' a kind of authority we would never dream of giving actual police officers. Can you imagine police doing this kind of thing at other points of mass transit, like bus or train or subway stations? But giving it to minimally skilled, callous, and generally apathetic employees without law enforcement power or responsibility is ok? Really?

I'm a security and defense hawk. It used to be my job. I've frisked dangerous people, actual killers, for hidden weapons. This too far.

Can you imagine the RAGE this policy would have caused if we implemented it as a military matter in Iraq or Afghanistan? I can see headlines about 'Sexual Imperialism' and blatant offense to Muslim sensitivities.

But our own citizens and their dignity and concerns are unworthy of consideration. It's for their own good, you see, that we have TSA employees patting down 4 year olds and feeling up pretty college students. How much would you like to bet that they'll crack and come up with some sort of rationalized exceptions as soon as conservative Muslim women start objecting to this sort of thing?

I have trouble expressing just how terrible of a policy this is. It is offensively invasive, misapplied, *begging* to be abused, and, as a raw security matter, completely fucking worthless.

For instance: I'm a terrorist and I want to launch an attack via an airport. What do I do? Become a baggage handler. Join the TSA. Simply open fire on all the poor souls waiting conveniently in line at security checkpoints. Put a bomb into checked baggage. Follow an employee home, take their uniform and relevant information, and simply walk in. And so on.

This is a perfect storm of governmental incompetence, lazy thinking, ignorance about security, and sheer apathy for the concerns of the governed. It should die ignominiously, and those who put it in place should be tarred, feathered, and fired.  

By Blogger pam, at Wed Nov 17, 01:44:00 PM:

With the exception of your professional history, I concur wholeheartedly, Dawnfire. And, I thank you for your professional service, as you know.

I know there has to be a better way, but I frankly can't think my way around it.

My experience in Paris was highly "personal." I understand it's for "security," but I have to wonder if TSA employees would be as professional as those at DeGaulle?

I would like to see/hear what you have to say, Dawnfire, especially since you never talk to me like I am idiot.

Specifically, how do you envision airport security? And, if you'd prefer, you can email me.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 17, 01:56:00 PM:

I love these comments, since (and this is rare) my own views are well expressed by many of the previous posters. Why, exactly, is profiling so reprehesible? Why dispense woth our fourth amendment protections just to avoid profiling?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 17, 02:13:00 PM:

i'd go with the 'straw breaks camel's back' explanation for it.

everyone sees little old grandmaw ladies being frisked, while bearded jihadi-lookalikes are sent freely on, lest they be offended. TSA says "we won't keep images", it's found out they're lying - they're all over the web. drudge runs a photo yesterday of a freakin' NUN being frisked. someone points out that it's a *federal crime* to lie to ANY federal agent - TSA guy, IRS guy, mailman - but the TSA freely admits they're ignoring the 4th amendment and committing sexual battery on passengers. videos of 3-year-olds being frisked till they cry. napolitano telling flyers they "just have to know their place". and on & on & ON.

as for the "safe radiation" jive, we're really supposed to believe that? coming from the same US gov't that's been lying to us as a matter of policy since - at least - since 1915? ("the lusitania carried no war materiel, and the huns sank her for no reason at all.")(and then, of course, 90 years later, it's found she carried 4 million rounds of mil-rifle ammo, as well as various other artillery and shells.) there'a also that 1964 classic, "we were fired upon by the north vietnamese in the gulf of tonkin" - ALSO proven to be a huge lie, a lie they *knew at the time* was a lie. but why look a gift war in the mouth?

they lied about how safe h-bomb testing was, and continued to do so even as americans sickened and died. (google "downwinders" sometime.) and now, of course, in the face of opposition by the proles, the TSA is doubling down on their tyranny: "we'll stick our hands down your pants if we feel like it, and if you don't like it, it's an $11,000 fine. because we decided to raise the fine without telling you, punks. whatcha gonna do about it, huh?"

enough is enough. one instinctively senses that this is the final line before we become an **official** police state. we let them get away with this crap....it's all over. we'll be looking at TSA "weigh/inspect/frisk" stations on the interstates in 5 years or less.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Wed Nov 17, 02:26:00 PM:

"This is a perfect storm of governmental incompetence, lazy thinking, ignorance about security, and sheer apathy for the concerns of the governed."

I see a metaphor for the Federal government writ large.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Nov 17, 02:28:00 PM:

@ Pam: What I'm about to write here is not original with me; I just agree with it.

No country in this world has suffered as much at the hands of bona fide terrorism as Israel. As a result, the Israelis have highly developed, professional, and extraordinarily effective airline security procedures that somehow, wonder of wonders, manage to not engage in the systematic groping of their population (for one thing, their Orthodox population would never, ever stand for it) and yet still succeed.

While not an expert on Israeli security (I've only ever been on the receiving end of it) at the point of departure level it seems to rely on observation, basic screening, and a thorough questioning process (professionally done, complete with control and confirmation questions between multiple members of a single group) cross referenced with up to date watch-lists. Nothing very difficult.

Above that, they actually have 1) competent, mostly un-politicized security services that pay attention when a foreign national comes to them and says, 'My son is planning on blowing up Israelis,' and 2) the wherewithal to interdict bad guys when they find out about them.

Over time, their reputation for efficiency and success serves to deter further attempts (wouldn't that be great?).

In my opinion, these repulsive micro-level procedures (I'm talking about the TSA now) are a knee-jerk, lazy overreaction to macro-level failures elsewhere. Like ignoring it when a man comes and says, 'My son is planning on blowing up Americans.' So theoretically, fixing the screwed up overall security system that lets such things occur will make micro-level intrusions like this unnecessary.

Not that they're helpful enough to be 'necessary' in the first place. At best, they merely push forward the point of attack so people are killed on the ground rather than in the air. Super improvement.  

By Blogger Foxfier, at Wed Nov 17, 02:37:00 PM:

It's an offensive, ineffective abuse of power with sexual overtones in both being carried out and in the option/punishment inspection.

The reason folks are exploding over this is because it's the last straw, rather than because it's uniquely offensive. (Although, being a rather shy woman, I _DO_ find it pretty dang offensive.) TSA itself is pretty offensive.

Folks have slowly been getting madder and madder, and it seems like things are stolen from luggage more and more often so we know that non-kabuki security hasn't improved, and it looks like TSA changed their procedures to make folks who don't want to do the scan for whatever reason even more uncomfortable.

Just about anyone could come up with a better system than this.

On a side note, this is a perfect step too far from a media perspective. You get lots of images of someone groping 14 year old girls, 3 year olds, you get to show images of women without clothing of various qualities (I've seen a lot of folks taking the stock scanner images and recoloring them so they look like photos) and the Feds have really obviously been lying about the images never coming out...and they just rolled out a new, even higher quality scanner.  

By Anonymous davod, at Wed Nov 17, 02:45:00 PM:

Are there any Democrat politicians screaming about the violations occurring here. If not, look upon this as a twofer for the administration.

The Republicans force a step down so the Republicans can be accused of being soft on terror. THen if god forbid a ratbag attacks an aircraft they can be blamed. It doesn't matter whether the searches would have found enaything. The blame would be out there before the truth arrived.

Additionally, did you read that the scanner is capable of seeing through 1/10th of skin.  

By Anonymous davod, at Wed Nov 17, 02:47:00 PM:

Sorry - 1/10th of an inch of skin.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 17, 03:11:00 PM:

I want specific profiling! Nothing wrong with it because if you don't profile specifically then everyone is profiled generally.

Serious question: Has airport screening ever foiled a bombing or hijacking plot?  

By Anonymous GaryS, at Wed Nov 17, 03:28:00 PM:

Regarding Tigerhawk's original posting, I ran across the perfect response on another blog. It said: "Personally, I like to maintain a little bit of masculine dignity in public. But, hey, that's just me."  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 17, 03:48:00 PM:

Looking at me, no problem. Looking at my wife, my four year old daughter, now theres a problem. The groping as an alternative, not really acceptable.  

By Blogger pam, at Wed Nov 17, 04:00:00 PM:

@Dawnfire--thank you! I have recently done a lot of reading about the Israeli screening, and think that with the exception of the two roadside screens, much is transferable.

A gazillion years ago, my dad was stopped at EL AL's counter at JFK. He was carrying. He had all of his ducks in order, but the process left a valuable--and favorable--impression on me.

Note: only the El Al folks seemed to notice he was carrying.

I like the notion that PROFESSIONALS are looking and watching, and asking seemingly harmless questions and gauging responses. And, I think that profiling makes sense.


By Blogger Carolyn, at Wed Nov 17, 04:34:00 PM:

Well, Tigerhawk,

Dennis Prager, who flies a lot, is with you concerning the scanners. He thinks that too many people fly in America to make the Israeli system practical.

He had Michael Fumento on yesterday. The radiation from a scan, according to information Fumento found, is equivalent to 2 minutes in the air at a common flying altitude.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 17, 04:47:00 PM:

so if i can't drive i won't go...
if i gotta fly, for whatever reason, it's gonna be privet charter... if i can't do that, do ya think a 6 foot 3 200 lb bearded man in a burka would be able to sneek thru???  

By Anonymous E Hines, at Wed Nov 17, 07:05:00 PM:

Regarding El Al's screening techniques, I'm not convinced they couldn't be implemented in the US. I had occasion to fly into (and back out of...) Israel some years ago. I don't recall getting two sets of questioning to look for commonalities or contradictions. I did have to present my bags for checking (no carry-ons on those two flights) the night before my departure; there might have been "idle" conversation with the baggage "handler" at that point. There was conversation with security when I checked myself in at the appointed time--all perfectly innocuous, courteous, and efficient. The two conversations could have been cross-checked.

My flights in and out of Israel sandwiched a terrorist attack against Israel, and travelers still weren't seriously delayed by Israeli security.

The delay for me was minimal, and the inconvenience of checking my bags the night before was quite trivial, especially in light of the TSA garbage today. To the extent such delays would occur in the US' far larger airline regime, this still seems trivial. I can plan for those (should be) predictable delays. But such professionalism may be too much to expect out of Napolitano's Homeland Security operation.

Eric Hines  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Nov 17, 07:09:00 PM:

Concerning Dennis Prager and TH: I think that the apparent line of thinking on this ( "I'm ok with this, so you should be, too.") is fundamentally wrong. This is a state mandated, forced invasion of privacy that, as we've recently learned, you can't even back out of without an $11k fine. For everyone. That you're ok with such invasions ('I'm a middle aged man with a pony keg, take all the photos you want, har har,' said a recent article on HotAir) doesn't invalidate the legitimate concerns of others. It may be unlikely that issues will come up with scans of Dennis Prager, but it does not take much imagination to see these images passed about on the Internet (where many already are) as, for instance, a 'substitute' for child pornography. And the time will come where some enterprising soul will find a way to match up scans with names and faces. Hardly terrifying to a celebrity personality in the limelight like Mr. Prager, but I imagine someone like Elizabeth Smart would disagree.

This position is not terribly different from those people who like the healthcare individual mandate because it's 'necessary' to make the healthcare plan work, not thinking at all that if the government can force them to buy one commodity they can force them to buy others. There are, or will be, collateral effects of this policy that I think many people are simply ignoring.  

By Blogger The Machiavellian, at Wed Nov 17, 07:30:00 PM:


I don't mean this to be curt, but it is just going to come out that way. No disrespect intended....

Free men in a great republic should not suffer the indignities of which men in lesser systems of government are subjected to on a daily basis.

It is in our nature that we are given inviolate rights by the Creator. One cannot give these gifts away. It diminishes our freedom and is an affront to the creator.

This type of over the top security, with hands shoved down your pants and your private areas touched discourages free travel via air.

And face it, if someone is discouraged by an overreaching TSA, they might well not fly from Delaware to Los Angeles.

Neither a train or car offers the expediency of air travel and thus the right of free travel has been abridged by governmental action.

As a lawyer, you know the colonials bristled at the general warrants issued by the British, used to both raid homes and stop travelers.

While some level of security is necessary, naked scans and personal physical searches, it seems to me, approach the level of abuse that caused the colonies to rebel.

Also, don't forget, as part of our legal heritage, the Articles of Confederation, explicitly named travel as a right:

Article IV. The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different States in this union, the free inhabitants of each of these States...and the people of each State shall have free ingress and regress to and from any other State...

There is something wrong with a government which punishes its own citizens, allows hostile foreign nationals to emigrate, and refuses to protect the homeland from foreign powers.  

By Blogger pam, at Wed Nov 17, 07:35:00 PM:

Dawnfire, and others who alluded to this, you nailed it. I am sure Elizabeth Smart would have something else to say.

I am not a prude, and etc. But the TSA blokes and blokettes are hardly professional, and I can only imagine their idea of pat-downs.  

By Blogger Hal Dall, MD, at Wed Nov 17, 10:45:00 PM:

In airport security one can see TSA's naked bureaucratic "thinking" without a scanner.

1) Reactive rules only (shoes, liquids; chase the last attack method)
2) Aggressive enforcement of arbitrary rules(toss out half full 100ml bottles, nail clippers)
3) Use methods to maximize increasing TSA's profile and budget(expensive scanners, an army of friskers)
4) Disparage methods not achieving #3 (intel, accurate no-fly lists, profiling)
5) Bully anyone who gets out of line
6) Ignore alternate terrorist vulnerabilities until attempted, then see #1 above.

If people really believed this would keep us safe, there would be little objection, but a lot of the reaction has been building for years as TSA pretended to make us safe.  

By Anonymous Chuck, at Wed Nov 17, 11:50:00 PM:

Like some others here, I don't much care if they image me - I'm getting into latter middle age and I showered with enough strangers in the service to not have a great deal of modesty left anyway. But I would be furious if they imaged my very attractive 17 yr old daughter (does anyone really believe that some images will not be saved and or matched to the individual?) or some TSA mouth-breather was grabbing her breasts and putting hands on her crotch. How does one explain to your little boy that it's okay if a stranger grabs his goodies in the airport?

Metal detectors made sense. X-raying bags made some sense. Removing shoes made less sense (have they ever caught anyone, in the many millions of shoes x-rayed?). Restricting bottle sizes made even less sense. Mandating nude images or a groping in order to use a public conveyance is for sure one straw too many. At this point, I think it makes equally as much sense to mandate every passenger eat a slice of bacon and step on a copy of the Koran before boarding an airplane. And that should be a punchline, not a policy.  

By Blogger Unknown, at Thu Nov 18, 12:16:00 AM:

Since I live in Israel and travel often to the States I get to see both security systems in action. There is a clear difference in philosophy. The Israelis focus on keeping bad people off the plane, the Americans focus on bad THINGS (like liquids). So naturally the Israelis use trained security interrogators and the Americans rely on technology.

Because the trained interrogator is the heart of the security system, it is noticeable that security people at Ben-Gurion definitely have pulses. TSA people, not so much.I had a TSA screener pitch a fit because I didn't have a visa for entrance into the USA--in my American passport.

Another factor that isn't usually mentioned is that every El Al flight carries armed air marshalls in civilian clothes. I am told they use special ammo that can be fired inside an airplane without rupturing the hull. So much more efficient than expecting the passengers to take down a would-be bomber.


By Blogger JPMcT, at Thu Nov 18, 12:37:00 AM:

Is there any further proof needed for governmental schizophrenia and incompetence than the sad fact that these are the same people who are suing Arizona for inconveniencing potential illegal aliens by asking them for proof of citizenship during the course of a valid traffic stop???!!!

I guess if the person being stopped is a potential Democrat, then the police are the Gestapo. For the rest of us, bend over and spread 'em!!!  

By Anonymous John Mc, at Thu Nov 18, 08:57:00 AM:

What makes this so wrong is that not only is it ineffective, it is making us more vulnerable. We're worried about some terrorist smuggling a bomb on board a plane and killing 200 people? Hell, he doesn't HAVE TO GET ON THE PLANE! I'f I'm a terrorist with C4 strapped to my body, all I need to is look for the longest line of people the TAS has herded into those cattle rows, wait til I'm right in the middle of it, then detonate. The army disperses soldiers on patrol to avoid this very thing. The morons at the TSA have made us sitting ducks before we even get on the plane.  

By Blogger Mac from Michigan, at Thu Nov 18, 11:58:00 AM:

Sara -

One question and a comment:

On average, how long does it take to clear through security over there?

Regarding the ammo. The fear of a hull rupture due to the hull being compromised from a bullet is Hollywood movie hype. Even multiple shots from a large caliber weapon would have minimal to no effect. Some depressurization of the cabin. Most modern airliners have a pressure system that can cope with a much larger hole. Of course, shots into wiring or plumbing and all bets are off.  

By Blogger Banshee, at Thu Nov 18, 07:44:00 PM:

TSA is not my doctor, and it's not my husband or anybody else close to me. Why on earth would it be even vaguely acceptable for them to see me naked? And in public? And in numbers? Pure nightmare fuel.

As for the "enhanced" patdown, one experience of the regular variety of frisking was more than bad enough to make me feel sick to my stomach and shamed, and that was from a woman who was part of a crew of sympathetic and professional TSA people. I can't even imagine how bad an "enhanced" patdown would be.

How the heck can it not bother you?  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Thu Nov 18, 08:24:00 PM:

@Suburbanbanshee (great handle, by the way):

How the heck can it not bother you?

Uh, I dunno why it does not bother me, it just doesn't. All kinds of strangers see me actual naked at the gym several times a week. The fact that some government drone sees a shiny silhouette of my naughty bits just doesn't bother me in the slightest. As long as my face and other identifiers are blocked or kept segregated from the digital image so that it cannot leak to the web (imagine what the liberal bloggers would do with *that*!), I don't give it a moment's thought. Immodest, I guess (and, I might add, with no good reason for immodesty). As for the pat down, I am not bothered by those either. I am probably like most middle-aged straight men in that I would prefer to be patted down by a female (in the days after 9/11 I was patted down by females several times before they changed the rules), but that's a detail.

That said, I agree with most of the comments saying this is the "last straw" -- we ought not have to put up with so much stupidity from our government. Apparently I need to hold it to a higher standard.  

By Blogger Bomber Girl, at Thu Nov 18, 08:49:00 PM:

Like TH, I am not bothered by anonymous silhouettes or appropriate "pat downs" - and as of now I have not experienced anything other than that in my various travels. But clearly some standards need to apply to personnel involved in such things and serious consequences if they transgress standards. I guess I would be more interested in the efficacy of such policies which are less clear.  

By Blogger Unknown, at Thu Nov 18, 11:20:00 PM:


The stated standard at Ben-Gurion is '25 minutes from the parking lot to the departure lounge'. I usually get through in much less, maybe 10 minutes if I check-in on the El Al web site before going to to airport. The actual questioning procedure is a short conversation, less than 2 minutes.

Your info about bullets is interesting and unexpected. Not that I would want to experience even 'some' depressurization!  

By Blogger The Machiavellian, at Sat Nov 20, 05:38:00 PM:


George Will nailed the philosophical issue with TSA today in his column:


Here's the money quote:

TSA: "Upon buying your ticket, you gave up a lot of rights."

Oh? John Locke, call your office.

The theory - perhaps by now it seems like a quaint anachronism - on which the nation was founded is, or was: Government is instituted to protect preexisting natural rights essential to the pursuit of happiness. Today, that pursuit often requires flying...

While security is necessary, it has to be respectful of our God given rights.

Additionally, the arrogance of government, which says you give up your rights when you do this or that annoys me.

You cannot give up what the Creator has imbued you with just as the state cannot violate the rights given to you by the creator.  

By Blogger Crusader, at Thu Nov 25, 08:50:00 AM:

As if PRIMARY screening at the airport by the TSA isn't enough, I hear of a new company in westchester county, NY going through an IPO right now to roll out a new starwars technology to enhance this process with a machine that they call a "re-screener". Said technology is designed to find that "needle in the haystack" problem that is typically missed during primary screening. Essentially you will have to walk through two machines, the second one being the re-screener. It is designed to take a, er, let's just say "a deeper look" as it scans billions of your body's cells. Not only do you have to stand in this scanner for 7extra minutes, but it is NOT covered with the purchase of your ticket. As you pass through the re-screening device, you have to hand the TSA agent a $20 in order to pay for the re-screen. Interstingly, the company has also build an elaborate "car wash device" whereby, for an extra $5, you can opt for a quick shower before leaving the re-screener. The company will soon begin marketing this new device with their controversial "dead passenger" ad designed to frighten passengers into paying the extra $20 for the re-screen. RE-SCREENING. puh. FML.  

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