Thursday, February 21, 2013

Warning - TSA thugs at work!

Once again the TSA proves that its only real function in life is to provide 'security theater' - in this case, a horror story!

The Transportation Security Administration is once again under fire, this time for allegedly detaining a wheelchair-bound 3-year-old girl, taking away her stuffed doll and ordering the girl’s parents not to videotape TSA agents patting her down.

The girl’s father, Nathan Forck, told Fox News Radio’s Todd Starnes that the TSA treated his daughter like a “criminal.”

“And by extension, they were treating us as criminals,” he added.

. . .

“They specifically told me that they were singling her out for this special treatment because she’s in a wheelchair,” Forck told Fox News. “They are specifically singling out disabled people for this special scrutiny. It’s rather offensive to me as a father of a disabled child.”

A TSA agent told the family that they needed to pat down Lucy and swab her wheelchair. The family had already made it through a security checkpoint by this time. Forck’s wife, Annie, pulled out her camera and began filming the incident, which agents told her was “illegal.”

“You can’t touch my daughter unless I record it,” she can be heard telling an agent in the video. Forck then asked an agent to “cite the law” that says they can’t videotape them.

After refusing to stop filming agents patting down her 3-year-old child, the Forck family was soon reportedly surrounded by TSA agents, with one guarding Lucy personally.

That’s when the “alarm bells” really started going off for Forck, who is an attorney and knew it was perfectly legal to videotape the TSA agents.

There's more at the link.

This really makes me mad - the more so because it happens so often.  I've run into it myself, when transporting two cats by air.  A TSA agent insisted their cages had to be swabbed for explosives, because detectors showed the presence of ammonia - an ingredient of some explosives.  Clearly, he'd never been told that cat pee also contains (and smells strongly of) ammonia!  Furthermore, I've found infuriating inconsistency in TSA procedure between different airports, particularly when traveling with firearms.  In some, it's a mere formality to have the firearm examined, then sealed in one's checked baggage.  In others, one's treated like an incipient felon for even daring to mention the word 'firearm', much less be transporting one!  When one asks about such inconsistencies, the agent(s) concern usually bark forbiddingly that their version is Standard Operating Procedure, and should not be questioned.  I sometimes get the impression they expect me to respond by saying "Jawohl, mein Führer!  Heil!" and saluting!

The TSA is a complete and utter waste of time and money.  It hasn't prevented a single terrorist attack, so far as we know, and claims to the contrary are utterly without evidence to back them up.  As security expert Bruce Schneier famously put it:

“The only useful airport security measures since 9/11 ... were locking and reinforcing the cockpit doors, so terrorists can’t break in, positive baggage matching”—ensuring that people can’t put luggage on planes, and then not board them —“and teaching the passengers to fight back. The rest is security theater.”

. . .

Terrorists will try to hit the United States again, Schneier says. One has to assume this. Terrorists can so easily switch from target to target and weapon to weapon that focusing on preventing any one type of attack is foolish. Even if the T.S.A. were somehow to make airports impregnable, this would simply divert terrorists to other, less heavily defended targets—shopping malls, movie theaters, churches, stadiums, museums. The terrorist’s goal isn’t to attack an airplane specifically; it’s to sow terror generally. “You spend billions of dollars on the airports and force the terrorists to spend an extra $30 on gas to drive to a hotel or casino and attack it,” Schneier says. “Congratulations!”

What the government should be doing is focusing on the terrorists when they are planning their plots. “That’s how the British caught the liquid bombers,” Schneier says. “They never got anywhere near the plane. That’s what you want—not catching them at the last minute as they try to board the flight.”

To walk through an airport with Bruce Schneier is to see how much change a trillion dollars can wreak. So much inconvenience for so little benefit at such a staggering cost. And directed against a threat that, by any objective standard, is quite modest. Since 9/11, Islamic terrorists have killed just 17 people on American soil, all but four of them victims of an army major turned fanatic who shot fellow soldiers in a rampage at Fort Hood. (The other four were killed by lone-wolf assassins.) During that same period, 200 times as many Americans drowned in their bathtubs. Still more were killed by driving their cars into deer. The best memorial to the victims of 9/11, in Schneier’s view, would be to forget most of the “lessons” of 9/11. “It’s infuriating,” he said, waving my fraudulent boarding pass to indicate the mass of waiting passengers, the humming X-ray machines, the piles of unloaded computers and cell phones on the conveyor belts, the uniformed T.S.A. officers instructing people to remove their shoes and take loose change from their pockets. “We’re spending billions upon billions of dollars doing this—and it is almost entirely pointless. Not only is it not done right, but even if it was done right it would be the wrong thing to do.”

There's more at the link.  Bold, underlined print is my emphasis.  I strongly recommend that you read that whole article.  Apart from making your blood boil at the stupidity of the whole thing, it'll show you more clearly than anything else why the TSA is a waste of our taxpayer dollars, and beyond reformation.  As far as I'm concerned (and I'm sure many travelers would agree with me), it should be abolished.



Well Seasoned Fool said...

I only fly when my employer requires it. Carry a CPAP. The way that is handled differs greatly from airport to airport. Agree the whole effort is a waste of time and money. Wonder how many people die in road accidents that might have otherwise went by air?

tweell said...

Fear not - Big Sis is bringing the TSA circus to us! She's putting them on the roads now to make our lives safer! /sarc

Mike_C said...

The poor kid. Anyone get the feeling that the TSA is the Project 100,000 of our times? And too often petty, mean-spirited little shits as well. That said, overall behavior seems to vary from airport to airport.

I have the dubious pleasure of often flying out of Boston Logan (proudly bringing you two of the four 911 planes), where there's a high proportion of the swaggering, bellowing, you-scumbag-civilians-attitude kind of TSA. A mere hour's drive north, Manchester (New Hampshire) airport has more polite, efficient and even friendly TSA. Maybe it's a Masshole vs. Granite Stater thing, but I've had similar experiences between Denver (shouty, swaggering) versus Colorado Springs (brisk, efficient).

Bring a bottle of water labeled "Civil Rights" or "Dignity" in large letters. Get a buddy to film you as they take it away. Post on the intarwebz. We may as well respond to security theater with absurdity theater and mockery. (And work on the legal front as well.)

Crucis said...

Since I'm now retired and don't have to travel for business...if I can't drive there---I', not going.