TSA trouble: It’s not over yet

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By Christopher Elliott

The TSA body-scan/pat-down crisis isn’t over — yet. Yes, National-Opt Out Day is history, with both sides incorrectly declaring victory. But this Sunday is just as busy as Wednesday, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. (By some estimates, it is the busiest travel day of the year.)

In other words, we’re only halfway there.

With that in mind, here’s an update from the eye of the storm.

President defends pat-downs

President Obama tells ABC’s Barbara Walters tonight that the pat-downs will continue. “I understand people’s frustrations with it,” he says. “But I also know that if there was an explosion in the air that killed a couple of hundred people…and it turned out that we could have prevented it possibly…that would be something that would be pretty upsetting to most of us – including me.”

Administrator Pistole offers terrorists a roadmap

The TSA administrator, who refuses to answer questions from the blogosphere, is making himself more than available to mainstream media. Perhaps a little too available. Yesterday, he offered the terrorists a blueprint in an interview with The Christian Science Monitor. “We’re not going to get in the business of doing body cavities,” he said. Terrorists around the world are bending over as I write this.

Complaints against TSA soar

The ACLU reported this morning that it has received over 900 complaints from travelers in the United States about the TSA’s new pat-downs. “These complaints came from men, women and children who reported feeling humiliated and traumatized by these searches, and, in some cases, comparing their psychological impact to sexual assaults,” it says.

Air travelers not moving on

Public frustration with the TSA remains high, despite the holiday. One of the most complete synopses of the agency’s many misdeeds comes from Atlanta Journal-Constitution commentator Bob Barr. “Perhaps the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently has received reliable intelligence that al Qaeda has been busy recruiting cancer survivors as sleeper terrorists, and grade-school students travelling with their parents as suicide bombers,” he writes in his blog. There’s one notable omission, which is this unbelievable standoff between TSA and a passenger earlier this week.

But I might be moving on

These are strange times. Very strange times. The Department of Homeland Security today seized more Internet domain names with little explanation. Some of these businesses were involved in the sale of counterfeit goods, but at least one was apparently simply shut down because it linked to content the DHS found objectionable. Given that DHS considers this site a member of what it patronizingly refers to as the “alternative media” and has served me with an unsuccessful subpoena and — if this memo is to be believed — probably regards yours truly as a “domestic extremist” for simply questioning the pat-downs and full body scans, then my days may be numbered.

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We have another 24 hours or so before the circus begins again. I’ll be keeping an eye on the situation, of course.

If I’m still here.

Update (9/27): I’m still here. Turns out the torrent site I mentioned in the last paragraph took itself down, not the DHS.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in São Paulo.

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