How much worse can the TSA behave?

When will this line end? / Photo by achab - Flickr
When you’re on probation, you steer clear of trouble. You try to to avoid any appearance of impropriety, and you’re on your best behavior.

Not the Transportation Security Administration.

The agency assigned to protect America’s transportation systems is on notice — from Congress, from its former chief administrator, and from the American public. But it’s acting as if it has an unlimited mandate and the unreserved support of the American people, two things it never had in the first place and certainly doesn’t have now.

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(By the way, I’ve asked whether things could get any worse for the TSA in the past. I guess now we know the answer.)

There were two troubling incidents involving kids last week. In the first, a couple traveling with their seven-year-old daughter, who uses crutches because she has Cerebral Palsy, was reportedly harassed at JFK and missed her flight.

Her crime? After encountering two “exceptionally aggressive” agents, her father began taping her screening on his iPhone.

My colleagues over at TSA News blog said it best: You can’t make this stuff up.

And then there was the story of the four-year-old who tried to give her grandmother a hug at the airport. The shocking details are here.

“It was implied, several times, that my mother, in their brief two-second embrace, had passed a handgun to my daughter,” the child’s mother, Michelle Brademeyer, wrote in an online account.

A pre-schooler packing heat? You’ve gotta be kidding.

The TSA agrees. It reviewed the incident and insists no such thing happened. But what else would it say, now that the story has gone viral?

That’s not all.

Here are the airport’s finest, accused of being part of a meth ring in LAX. Authorities in California have charged four current and former agents with trafficking and bribery, alleging that they received thousands of dollars in cash bribes in exchange for turning a blind eye on drugs packed in suitcases.

Can the TSA top that? Like you have to ask.

How about going after a U.S. Congressman? No problem. U.S. Rep. Francisco Canseco last week said he was assaulted by a TSA agent at the San Antonio International Airport.

“The agent was very aggressive in his pat-down, and he was patting me down where no one is supposed to go,” Canseco told a local TV station. “It got very uncomfortable so I moved his hand away. That stopped everything and brought in supervisors and everyone else.”

When the Congressman pushed the agent’s hand away, Canseco says he was assaulted. The TSA says it is dealing directly with the representative’s office on the issue, and has no comment.

It’s ironic that a Transportation Security Officer would go after a Congressman, since Congress has the agency in its own crosshairs. It’s considering a bill that would prevent screeners from referring to themselves as officers, for example. They’re calling for hearings on the safety of body scanners. And the latest Congressional oversight hearings have been anything but cordial. One representative is even asking for TSA chief John Pistole’s head on a platter.

As if that isn’t enough, former TSA Administrator Kip Hawley is attacking his ex-employer, calling airport security “broken.”

I’ve enjoyed the reviews of his new book more than the book itself. Here’s a write-up from the Homeland Security Institute, which has a long track record of being pro-TSA.

“Now that Kip Hawley is out of office, anxious to consult, and needful of distinguishing himself from a herd of other such persons, he tells us what we already knew–that none of that stupidity increased security a whit,” it quips. “Put another way, Mr. Hawley has now seen the light, although he is no longer able to do much about it.”

Maybe we could turn this into a reality TV show called Hawk Cage Fight?

Passengers haven’t been this mad at the federalized screeners since the pat-down/body-scan fiasco two Thanksgivings ago. But no worries, Janet Napolitano knows just what to do. She plans to cross-train TSA agents as passenger advocates.

Let me repeat that: The head of the Department of Homeland Security thinks screeners can police themselves, thanks very much. She’ll even train them to do the job (with your tax money). No need for any outsider to try to help.

Wow. I’m a consumer advocate, and I thought I had problems with fake consumer advocates. But this would be even worse. The foxes would be guarding the henhouse, as they say.

Why are TSA agents acting like thugs?

No one really knows. It could have something to do with the fact that it doesn’t bother screening some of its applicants, a little problem that it admitted to last week. But it’s also a safe bet their managers haven’t posted any “secret” memos encouraging their “officers” to be on their best behavior.

Given the fact that the agency is, for lack of a better term, on probation, that might be a good start.

54 thoughts on “How much worse can the TSA behave?

  1. R you yanks all stupid ? Why do u put up with this crap from the most lowly paid & undereducated. Can ex cons work for the TSA ? Probably. Anyone else can.

    This wouldn’t happen in Australia. Even though we don’t sell guns everywhere except candy stores, someone would tell TSA morons where 2 go & probably shoot a few of them.

    You can still get rifles in Australia quite easily legally, just not handguns.

      1. Well, this socialist has been one of the most vocal critics of the TSA and the entire National Security State for years.

        Can we quit with the labels, people? We’re all in this together.  Civil liberties are important for all of us, and those of us who value them don’t want to see our government — or corporations — taking a dump on them.

    1. Aussietraveller, while I agree that the post-9/11 paranoia and hysteria in this country are off the charts, and am disgusted with the cowardice of so many Americans, I wouldn’t be so quick on the draw if I were you.  Scanners are being installed down under as we speak.  You and your countrymen are about to get virtually stripped as well:

      http://www.travelunderground.org/index.php?threads/43-positives-for-nos-w-atr-at-syd-mel.2357/

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-06/privacy-questions-over-airport-body-scan-laws/3813760

  2. As long as they believe they have the power of the government behind them, the TSA ‘officers’ will continue to abuse that power. Homeland Security is at the dead center core of this; it is the abusive hand of government – the Gestapo would be proud! Police officers in every other organization in the country are not above the law, so why is TSA allowed that priveledge.

  3. Amazing isn’t it? When I asked why I had to remove my shoes when the woman in front of me didn’t, I was held by a sherriff’s deputy, the flight was delayed, and I was threatened with jail for questioning the consistency of their screening! They whole bunch of TSA should be let go…starting at the top.

    1. The local cops are in with them. and that sheriff needs to be bounced out of office.  If the SHERIFF, the highest elected law enforcement official, will NOT protect the people, then you are in trouble my friend.   What’s to stop a special elite branch of the TSA from picking  you up and putting a bullet into your brain?   Would anybody REALLY stop them?

    2.  I got yelled at for taking my shoes off once.  They said they weren’t asking people to take their shoes off that day.

      1. I’ve been yelled at for this as well, and it was a number of years ago.

        And since the shoe policy went into place, it is the ONLY time I’ve been told to not take off my shoes. Which means TSA employees at McCarran in Las Vegas weren’t following their own procedures.

        It’s all about power and control.

        1. I experienced this too.  The TSA agent claimed it was by design; something about being unpredictable.  I replied with something along the lines of, “that’s fine; you don’t need to scold us.  We’ve been conditioned to take our shoes off to avoid a scolding.” (thankfully I wasn’t threatened for the remark).

  4. TWO WORDS:  CAGE MATCH!!!!

    Yeah, I’d watch that.

    And, I still haven’t heard back from the TSA on my inquiry about children vs. pregnant women in the pr0n0scanners. Not that I expected to, but…

  5. Here in Houston, rasict, radical, and proud liberal commie shelia jackass lee has announced that the TSA will be frisking passengers and their belongings on city busses. They will be surprised to no end, I’m sure, to find out texans carry a lot of guns here.

      1. They bought 9,000 armored MOBILE checkpoint shacks.  They will be searching you on the open highways.  The T-and-A have said as much.

    1. Considering that your Lesbian Marxist Mayor in Houston (that says a lot about the People’s Republic of Houston, doesn’t it) is practically on the Obama payroll, auditioning for a role in the Junta during the indefinite 2nd term.

      1. You may claim to be a patriot, but the only thing you’re showing yourself to be is a homophobic (lesbian), fear-mongering (Marxist) jackass.

    2. SJL never met a news camera she didn’t like.
      People in her district need to get her out…ugh, so sick of seeing her on the news.

      “MUSS I DIE!?!?”

  6. As an American who’s currently stuck over in Europe, unable to fly home even just for a visit because I don’t want to be assaulted by these thugs, I still can’t understand why a huge lawsuit hasn’t been filed by any/all of the countless victims, and (if necessary) taken all the way up through the court-system.  Constitutionally speaking, this is such a no-brainer that it’s mind-bending.  How could the Supreme Court possibly rule other than 9-0 against the existence-as-currently-defined of the TSA?

    At the same time, why is Congress dawdling for so long?  We’ve already had at least one Senator and now one Congressman subjected to the same indignities to which the rest of us are subject–wouldn’t you think that both chambers would collectively rise up in anger, and ram a bill through in record-time, ordering the dismantling of this criminal agency?!  Yet even minor bills–like forcing them to stop falsely calling themselves “officers,” woo hoo–appear to be languishing in committee…

    It’s the stuff of a conspiracy-theorist’s dreams: the TSA goons keep pushing the envelope, simply because THEY KNOW THEY CAN.  Legally, if the TSA’s actions are considered lawful, we have de facto become a police state, where absolutely anything can be done by The Government, so long as it’s done under the guise of “security.”  It’s so ironic to me that it’s become fashionable to protest against “bullying” in schools, and yet turn a blind eye when the same or worse is done by the TSA!

    1. Clare, you’re lucky you’re in Europe. 

      As for lawsuits, there are several making their slow way through the courts.  It’ll take years.  Meanwhile, the Supreme Court, as you know, has ruled that strip-searches for everyone, no matter how minor the alleged offense are just fine and dandy. So I wouldn’t   look to them for any redress.

      The sad, bitter truth is that more — many more — people will have to be abused before this changes. Those of us who’ve been ringing alarm bells about this agency realized this early on. Too many people just don’t get it — and won’t — until “it” happens to them.  We’re not at the tipping point yet.

    2. At this point, I fully expect the courts to be of no help whatsoever.

      It’s pretty clear that SCOTUS will almost always vote in favor of big government and big corporations.

  7. (Edit: This was meant as a response to kenlowder–don’t know why it didn’t post to the right place…)

    On the contrary!  I’m wondering if maybe they’re just baiting you law-abiding Texans, hoping that one of you will pull your legally-owned firearm on them–thereby giving them an excuse to try to curtail the second amendment in any way they can?  Can’t have our “officers” feeling “unsafe” now, can we?

    1. I am SUPRISED that only one T-and-A clerk (they aren’t worthy of the term “agent” or “officer”), has been decked and another had her boobies twisted.   For all of the garbage they give the sheeple, this is the only retaliation which has happened.  

      Sooner or later, some big incident will TAKE PLACE out of anger.  

      I for one refuse to fly or step foot into an airport.   I’m not so good at showing restraint in the face of abuse.

  8. In reading the story about the 7 year old girl, I have a simple question.  In the story it states…

     “They were there [at the gate] for an hour before the agents reappeared with a manager to tell them that proper protocol had not been followed, and that Dina had to be screened after all, the Franks said. After initially offering to pat her down at the gate, they insisted she return to the security area, Joshua Frank said.”

    If she had passed through without proper screening and had been there for over an hour, why wasn’t the entire terminal cleared and re-screened and any flight that left during that time brought back for re-screening?  If this 7 year old “terrorist” had brought something through, it would have been passed off long ago so re-screening her would be useless.

    1. That’s an intersting point.  It is pretty pointless, unless the point is really for a pedophile to get his jollies.  Bob,  I know you’re reading this.  Care to comment?

  9. I have to wonder what life is like for the kids of these screeners who mistreat children and others so horribly.  If they bully others like this, how do they treat their own children and elderly relatives?

    1. I’ve wondered that one myself.

      Alternatively, perhaps they’re so drunk with power because they haven’t got it anywhere else in their life.

  10. Dear AUSSIEtraveller: We Yanks aren’t all stupid (tho’ I don’t blame you for thinking we are). Th USA has this schitzy natl personality. We think we’re powerful and invulnerable, but we are easily bullied into being afraid. In the ’50s, the nation was terrified of “Communists” and the govt over-reacted. In the post-9/11 era (that is, most of the 21st century to date), we afraid of “terrorists,” and the govt is again over-reacting. The TSA is the most obvious manifestation of our current fears. Many of us are appalled and embarrassed by it all.                     

  11. I knew the whole charade of air travel safety was a dangerous joke when I flew shortly after 9/11. It was mandated that I get a plastic butter knife instead of the dull metal one I normally would have had, and yet we were handed actual GLASS wine glasses. Personally, I’d much rather be attacked with a metal butter knife than a broken wine glass if there’s a terrorist on board. But hey, I guess those in charge of our air safety must know something I don’t…

    1. I traveled in November of 2011 and was surprised to get a plastic knife and a metal fork. My thought? If someone was that serious about trying  to use an eating utensil to take over a plane, the metal fork would probably work just as well. You could use those tines to puncture someone’s neck quite easily.

      I was smart enough to keep that observation to myself.

  12. Here we go again . . .
    Part of the plan started by United Nations Agenda 21 is to make the public “malleable” by desensitizing them to giving up liberties in the name of security.
    When the Third Reich put people into cattle cars, it was “STRICTLY FOR THEIR SAFETY.”  They were told to gather their family and rush to the rail yard so they could be protected since the Russians were coming close, and they were being removed for their own protection.
    Once the door shut and was locked, they were as good as dead.
    If we continue to submit to more and worse violations of our rights in the name of stopping terrorists, WE ALL LOOSE.  Soon, we’ll all be desensitized enough that we allow anyone in a uniform to do anything they feel like doing to us.

    1.  Are you serious?  That’s about as off the wall as Rush Limbaugh comparing people attacking his prescription habits to the holocaust.  And it’s “lose” not loose. 

  13. Great article. The criminals are in charge and the innocent are their victims, all sanctioned by the Government.

    Bin laden laughs from his grave. He has won.

  14. EWR was locked down because the incompetent morons that are known as “the TSA” did not “properly screen” a baby.

    Yes, a baby.

    Because we all know those 6 month olds pack some serious heat!

  15. Chris asks “Why are TSA agents acting like thugs?”  and I’m tempted to answer: because only a thug would molest underage kids for a paycheck.  But I think there’s more than that.  I think the TSA has taken on a bunker mentality after months of relentless (and richly deserved!) bad press.

    I have heard people saying that formerly friendly screener teams turned snarling as soon as the naked body scanners were installed.  I think many travelers have started to resist and refuse cooperation with this despicable organization, and that it takes a toll on the workers.  Good!  Let’s keep it up!

    I resist and argue and create delays and object to the greatest extent I can manage at the airport.  I’m there much less frequently now, but sometimes I’m unlucky enough not to be able to get where I’m going on Amtrak.  We need to continue treating blueshirts as the lowlife traitors that they are.  If these screeners respond by becoming nastier and more violent towards the traveling public, we win twice over, because anti-TSA sentiment will grow, one victim at a time.

  16. ‘TSA the reality show’    Is this PERFECT or not?  I’m still laughing that they condescended to let us bring our cigarette lighters on board again.  I heard that they had been worrying about someone lighting a flight attendant’s hair on fire.

  17. The US will remain off my list of possible vacation destinations so long as these morons are allowed to assault tourists and other travellers. This is becoming like the Iron Curtain that we had close to us over here in western Europe. If the Atlantic wasn’t between us, the US would probably have erected a wall by now.

    1. I feel like I’m already in an iron curtain. My husband and I have talked about leaving for another country, but how do we get out without being assaulted?

      This is a particular concern since my husband is disabled. He uses a motorized wheelchair. They always target disabled people.

  18. “But it’s acting as if it has an unlimited mandate and the unreserved support of the American people.” I’m sorry to say that we have given the TSA an unlimited mandate and most of the public must support that or nto object too much or it would stop. Instead, it’s only getting worse, and expanding far beyond our airports.

  19. I have said it before and I will say it again.

    This will continue.  This will get worse.  Nothing will be done until perhaps someone dies, and it will most likely be someone elderly, disabled and/or someone with special medical/health considerations.

    The weakest and most vulnerable of of our society will be the one to pay the price for change.  When that happens we should all be ashamed, because we knew it was coming.

    1. Carol Ann Gottbaum was killed at Phoenix airport. They covered it up by pretending that she was crazy. They actually said that she choked herself to death! Can you believe it? Must have been Blogger Bob who came up with that whopper.

      Robin Kassner was beaten so badly in DC that she has permanent brain damage.

      All they do is lie and cover it up and the world goes on as if nothing ever happened.

  20. At one time, Israel was being contacted to provide information on their best in the world security. But, our lilly livered liberals felt that they went way beyond and xed the training. You get what you get and you live with it or you legally file charges. I will never be without my video camera when I go through security, you never know just how viral it will go. Your smuggling diamonds where? None of your business, you are not cops, you are security!

    1. TSA was pushed for and created by a conservative president. It’s abuses have receive widespread support from both sides ever since.

      So if your brain is too small to comprehend that neither side cares about you or your privacy, at least do us all the favor and stop spreading your nonsense.

    2. As long as the idiots continue to rant and rave about liberals v. conservatives, the corporate interests and billionaires at the top who have bought and paid for BOTH parties will continue to abuse and manipulate the people any way they desire…..as long as it rakes in money for them.

      Neither the Dems nor the Reps will do anything to end this travesty because they and their masters are raking in millions of dollars off of our misery and pain.

      You think that a change in party will result in a change at TSA? Personally, I never saw any hog chase the guy with the feed bucket away from the trough.

  21. It is more and more difficult to see how the extra measures are actually related to passenger safety. Still, the crackdown continues…

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