Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Monday, November 22, 2010

You are now Free to Roam the Country

The new TSA regulations about airport screenings are riling a lot of people. I have complained about them before on this blog. Needless to say, I very much hope I am not expected to travel anytime soon because I refuse to be strip searched by a scanner and I will not allow anyone to "touch my junk" either, unless it is part of a larger civil protest. I am not a criminal because I have chosen to fly. With that in mind, I encourage you to participate in the "Opt Out Day" if you are flying for Thanksgiving. This is acceptable civil disobedience.

And please, file your complaints about screening with the TSA. They keep saying that they are getting "minimal complaints". They are either lying or no one is bothering to file complaints. This article has information about IPhone aps for filing complaints. Let them hear you!

I have also been reading the blog Of John Tyner, the San Diego resident who used his cell phone to record his TSA encounter. He makes some very good points about contracts. I'd be interested what LTG thinks of his point of view.

I am most put off by the fact that the TSA threatened this man with fines because he left the screening area. He forfeited his ticket and agreed not to fly, at which point they threatened him.

And what is very disheartening is to hear people in the Obama Administration using the same scare tactics as Bush's people did. Here is what John Pistole said to the New York Times about the "Opt Out" protest, "If terrorists can anticipate that, it gives them an opportunity." Sad, very sad.

11 comments:

Raised By Republicans said...

First, love the title of this post.

It always seemed to me that unless you are going to go the Israeli route and give every passenger their own individual psychological interview/profile, the key would be unpredictability. If the terrorist know they are going to be patted down, they'll do something that pat downs can't check. If they know they will be sniffed by a dog, they'll do something to avoid that. But it becomes increasingly difficult if they have to simultaneously avoid several different types of security checks.

Since we can't feasibly impose several layers at every airport, I've always thought we should have multiple types at each airport with a random chance of any one passenger getting checked by one of the several methods. That way a hypothetical terrorist would have to think "Well, I've got a 30% chance of getting in the x-ray line, a 30% chance of getting in the dog sniffing line, a 30% chance of a pat-down and I might even have to do a psych interview or something.

I'm not a big fan of invasive security measures. I think a lot of what the TSA does is nonsense. This whole shoe fetish they have is probably the biggest inconvenience to passengers for the smallest security payoff.

But it seems to me that if they see something suspicious in some other scan, I would be happier if they did a thorough pat-down as opposed to a casual/less invasive one. That said, I don't think they should just star patting down everyone.

Raised By Republicans said...

BTW, I was actually given a pat-down search at an Eastern European airport Pre-9/11 because that was the only security method they had available at that gate at that time.

It was intrusive and uncomfortable but I survived with both my virtue and my dignity intact.

USWest said...

The big problem with current TSA practices is that they are using these security measures for fishing expeditions. It's like a cop pulling over every car on the highway and arresting anyone with a bottle of wine in the back seat for drunk driving.

The TSA agent told this guy in San Diego, "You gave up your civil rights when you bought your ticket." What?! If this is where we are at, where government agents think you have given up your civil rights, then we are in big trouble. We are the police state.

Even the Israelis aren't doing these types of scans- all graphic. And they face a much more serious and immediate threat than we do. In fact, you could blur some of these images and still get the security screen you want. You don't need to see every private part in detail, which is what these scans do.

It isn't about surviving a pat down, it's the principle. It's about what we lose when we allow that sort of thing. We empower government agents even more. I remind you of the abuses that we still suffer because of the "drug" war in this country. We have militarized and over-empowered the police who enforce rules with the “because-I-said-so-and-I’m-the-cops” attitude.

And use some common sense. The shoes are one fine example. A friend of mine witnessed this failure recently. They made a three year-old toddle through the metal detector ahead of her mother. The mother, however, kept setting off the detector, so she had to go for pat down. The three year-old started screaming when they took her mother away, and they wouldn’t let her join her mother in the pat down area because “the child has already been screened.”

It’s pretty bad when the head of the TSA has to say, in a public statement, “There will be no body-cavity searches.” Really? That’s a relief. Or he has to stipulate that children under 12 won’t get invasive pat downs? 12? Try 18. At 14 it would have been disturbing and invasive to me as a girl.

Then we get into the potential health effects of these machines, which are still open for debate. And Lord help you if you have hip replacement, pacemaker, etc. You have to carry X-rays and doctor's statements around with you.

What is worse, there is a certain amount of inelasticity in the demand for airplane tickets. Since we don't really have many alternatives in this country for long-distance travel (like they do in Europe) our ability to "opt out" is compromised.

USWest said...

BTW: My double entendre in the title didn't fall FLAT,I see!

Raised By Republicans said...

"The TSA agent told this guy in San Diego, "You gave up your civil rights when you bought your ticket." What?! If this is where we are at, where government agents think you have given up your civil rights, then we are in big trouble. We are the police state."

That is a horrible attitude for a TSA agent to have. But from what I've heard the real scandal with the TSA is that they're hiring from the same pool as mall security. In other words, not the brightest bulbs around. It wouldn't surprise me if the TSA agent who said this simply has no idea what the rules really are.

USWest said...

Ha, I originally mentioned the lack of "brightness" and took it out of my final comment because I don't want to paint them all with the same brush. With the economy as it is, people will take whatever jobs they can get. I blame the agents for being misinformed. But I also blame TSA as an organization for failing to properly inform them.

USWest said...

OH, and things aren't going to get better at the TSA. As a fig leaf to Republicans, the President is proposing a 2 year pay freeze on all civilian government employees.

We saw that coming.

The Law Talking Guy said...

TSA is another Bush screwup. It's important to recognize that so that we look skeptically when Fox complains about it.

The TSA has a stupid bureaucratic mandate. There was a Capitol Steps song from 8 years ago that said that TSA would have a 100% success rate if nobody made it on a plane. That's about whwere we are.

The Law Talking Guy said...

TSA is another Bush screwup. It's important to recognize that so that we look skeptically when Fox complains about it.

The TSA has a stupid bureaucratic mandate. There was a Capitol Steps song from 8 years ago that said that TSA would have a 100% success rate if nobody made it on a plane. That's about whwere we are.

USwest said...

If you pay and get really good people, you will be fine. Technology is not going to solve our security problems. It's the same attitude that said we could spy from the sky. That has failed. So why to so make the same mistake in our airports? You have to get people on the ground, and you have to profile based on observable behaviors and known information. Let me give you an example.

The Swiss, I have recently discovered, are very good at security without demeaning people.

Years ago, after 9/11, my boyfriend, who was born in Switzerland but who is a US Citizen was traveling back to the US. He checked in with his American passport that says "Born: Bern, Switzerland" and then bought a Turkish-language newspaper. When we was at the gate (in the American flight area) reading the paper, a Swiss security guard exchanged greetings and niceties with him Swiss German. My boyfriend replied in Swiss-German, returning the greetings. Then the guard asked if he could "actually" read that paper. Any my boyfriend explained in perfect, nearly unaccented English that he could. The man asked how, and my boyfriend replied that his late father was a Turkish diplomat. The man wished him a pleasant flight.

What had happened is that the airline saw the birthplace on the passport. From that point on, he was being watched. When they saw the Turkish newspaper, their suspicion increased. So what they established with the polite interview was 1) my boyfriend understood and spoke Swiss German. 2) He obviously spoke perfect English. 3) the Turkish language connection had been adequately explained 4) He hadn't set off any alarms in security screening, and he hadn't acted shifty or nervous, 5) He wasn't on a no-fly list. Putting that information all together, they understood that he was no threat. This is how security needs to work. But you need skilled and well-paid people. But it is worth it.

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