Tag Archives: TSA

What The Hell is Wrong With Us?

Seriously, America, what the fuck are you thinking? Here, go read this:

Meet the Resistance

Got it? The TSA is insisting that they either grope you or get to see you naked before you get on a plane. Least you have any illusions about what those scanners show, here’s a picture:

That’s low resolution, like you’d get with a bad cell phone camera. The actual scanner image is much more detailed, but that’s about what a TSA employee would get if he snapped a picture of the scanner image with his cheap cell phone, to enjoy later.

Now, do you really think this is a good idea? You’re okay with the the government mandating that you be either exposed or sexually assaulted before getting on a plane? Okay, maybe you are. But are you okay with your KIDS being exposed or sexually assaulted just to get on a god-damned airplane?

Are we not only to prostitute ourselves to any government employee who insists that access to our bodies is his right, but we must pimp out our children too? Are we, as a people, really THAT pathetic?

“Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until 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.” – Frederick Douglass

What the fuck does it take before we get our fat asses up off the couch and say, “Enough!”

Have We Lost?

The TSA’s latest crazy scheme to find and remove any shred of human dignity from American air travelers has gotten a lot of attention lately. (I’ve collected a number of stories at IWillFlyNoMoreForever.com.) Everyone wants to be safe, but no one wants the TSA’s hand up their ass. How to reconcile those positions?

First, we must look at a basic assumption of how the TSA works; that they can make us safe. They can’t. I have yet to see anything at an airport that would stop me from carrying out a major terrorist act, and I haven’t put any real effort into thinking about it. You can bet that the people who want to carry out such attacks have given it a great deal of thought.

So, we must concede that if the terrorists get to the airport, some of us are going to die. There is nothing we can do about that.

Let me repeat that:

If terrorists are determined to kill some of us, they will succeed, and there is nothing at all that we can do to prevent that.

The TSA’s efforts have been increasingly frantic and intrusive because they are tasked with preventing something that cannot be prevented. Imagine if you were given the job of eliminating darkness from your home town. You might run around setting up floodlights, checking people’s houses to make sure that every closet had a light on inside, begging for a bigger budget for more streetlights…and you would fail. For all of your efforts, for all the laws passed to make people keep their lights on, there would still be darkness.

If a bad-guy wants to badly enough, he can find a way to kill Americans. Accept that.

Once we have accepted that there is no 100% foolproof way to prevent every terrorist attack, we can start looking at serious answers. The most obvious is to catch the terrorists before they carry out their attack. Stop them before they get to the airport. That’s what happened with the liquid-explosives bombers. We still have to dump out kids’ sippy-cups, but it doesn’t matter what kind of explosives they had because they never made it to the airport.

We need better intelligence gathering, and better sharing of that information between agencies. The real failure in the recent ‘underwear bomber’ incident wasn’t that the explosives in his underwear weren’t detected by airport security. The real failure is that all of the information saying ‘this is a bad guy who you should do something about’ (including a tip saying exactly that from the man’s own father) was completely ignored.

If we get information saying, “This man right here is going to try and carry out a terrorist attack” and let him on the plane anyway, does it matter how thoroughly we search everyone else?

The other thing we need to do is control our responses. The way to fight terror is not to strip-search six-year-olds; the way to fight terror is to not be afraid. If a terrorist attack does take down a plane, or a train, or a line full of people waiting patiently for some underpaid high school dropout in a TSA uniform to grab their balls, the thing to do is NOT PANIC. Treat it as we would any other plane crash or accident; investigate what happened to see if there are any lessons to be learned, and go on about our lives.

The way to fight terror is to not be terrified.

The point of a terrorist attack is to make people afraid, and to make them overreact. Since 9/11/01 we have done exactly what the terrorists wanted, at every step of the way. How smart is that?

Some of us may die in a future terrorist attack, but that would be true no matter what the TSA’s policies are. People are dying now because of those policies. ‘What?’ you say. ‘How can that be?’

Because of increased, and increasingly humiliating and intrusive, security at the airports, more people are driving instead of flying. Driving is more dangerous than flying. An estimated 40 people a month die on the roads who would have lived if they’d flown. (Full story here.) That’s at least 4,000 people since the TSA was created.

The 9/11 attacks killed about 3,000 people.

Our airport security has killed more Americans than the terrorists have. How smart is that?

If the TSA backs down on their current ‘scan and grope’ regimen, and some future terrorist takes down a plane (and one will, whether the TSA is scanning and groping or not), there will be people who say, “See! We told you that this would happen if we stopped grabbing your balls!”

Ignore them. Do not panic. Do not overreact. Yes, if we force the TSA to let us retain our dignity when we fly some of us will die. It might be you; it might be me. But some of us will die anyway, without their dignity, and some of us our dying already.

The terrorists cannot destroy our way of life. Only we can do that. And we are.

TSA: Broken From The Start

The real problem with the TSA isn’t that they have stupid rules and arbitrary rules that don’t do anything to protect us. The real problem is that that’s the only way they can work.

The TSA is focused on stuff. They have a list of stuff that they’re not supposed to allow on the plane. That seems like an easy way to keep air travelers safe, right? Keep dangerous things off the plane, then there won’t be any danger.

The problem is that dangerous stuff isn’t the problem. A person could get on an airplane with a box full of hand grenades, an M-60 machine gun, a knife, a sword, and even the most dangerous thing of all, a pair of nail clippers, and that flight would not be in any slightest danger at all if that person doesn’t intend any harm.

But a person with evil intent could wreak havoc with a pencil and piece of string.

There is an old saying that there are no dangerous weapons, only dangerous people. That is absolutely the case when you are talking about things like airplane security. Taking things away from people who don’t intend to do any harm does absolutely nothing for passenger security. (In fact, it may do harm, by reducing the passengers’ ability to protect themselves from the people of evil intent. Imagine if the non-terrorist passengers on 9/11 had all been carrying pistols.)

I’ll say that again: Taking ‘dangerous’ stuff away from good people is totally useless.

Taking dangerous stuff away from bad people isn’t all that useful either, because practically anything can be dangerous. The trick isn’t to try and stop dangerous stuff; the trick is to stop dangerous people.

The TSA is completely hopeless at that. They don’t even try.

People say that the Israeli method of doing airport security wouldn’t work here because of the volume of air travel, and that’s true enough. The lesson to be learned from how the Israelis do security isn’t to copy everything they do, but look at where their emphasis is. The Israelis do some scanning for bombs and the like, but most of their passenger screening efforts are on looking at the people, not the stuff.

That is what we don’t do, but what we should. There are no dangerous weapons, only dangerous people. The TSA isn’t interested in dangerous people, only in looking at their list of dangerous stuff and making sure nothing on that list gets past them. (Though they’re not even very good at that.)

That is why the TSA must go. It is a broken organization; no matter how good they get at doing what they do, it won’t make us safer because they do the wrong thing. And they aren’t even any good at that.

Welcome to 2010, Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair has a nice article saying just what I’ve said for a while now. The ending is practically verbatim.