Airport security can be better — and here’s how

1-IMG_0461It’s been more than a decade since the creation of the Transportation Security Administration, the agency assigned to protect America’s transportation systems.

Almost from the beginning, a small group of activists have kept a vigilant eye on the agency. When TSA agents pilfered your luggage, they spoke up. When the blueshirts forced us through inadequately tested scanners, they said something. When agents treated us like prison inmates, they fired up their laptop computers and they wrote.

Today, those watchdogs — and I include myself in the group — are at a crossroads. Some of our closest supporters are gently advising us to give it a rest. They say our relentless criticism of an agency that is just trying to protect us makes us look shrill and unreasonable.

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Besides, every dog needs a break.

I know that’s true. I had an opportunity to take my sons, ages 8 and 10, dogsledding a few weeks ago in Lake Louise, Canada. Our two lead dogs, Linus and Sally, reminded me of the friends I’ve worked with who are united by a concern about the TSA. They want to move forward no matter what.

Our guide told us his dogs would keep running despite their injuries.

But if you’re racing sled dogs, you know that’s impossible. You have to give the huskies a break and feed them. A sled dog can consume between 10,000 and 12,000 calories per day. If you don’t stop every few hours to allow them to recover, your team will get run down and lose the race.

What do the TSA’s watchdogs want?

If you rewind to 2010, when the agency began secretly installing poorly tested body scanners in America’s airports, and then forcing passengers to use them or face a prison-style pat-down, the watchdogs have a lot to be proud of. Thanks to their advocacy, the TSA quickly abandoned its “one-size-fits-all” approach to aviation security.

Today, a select few passengers don’t have to subject themselves to an invasive scan or a humiliating pat-down because the watchdogs said something — even as others insisted that this was the price we had to pay for keeping America’s skies safe. Yet a majority of passengers must still be screened in a way that critics claim is unconstitutional.

We’re not there yet

Here’s what the watchdogs want:

Decommission all full-body scanners. The technology is unproven and potentially dangerous. The expense can’t be justified to the American taxpayer.

Fix the screening process. Every airline passenger should be checked in a way that is non-invasive, doesn’t involve harmful radiation, and respects their civil rights and the U.S. Constitution. We know the current system doesn’t do that. Let’s find something that does.

Kill VIPR. The TSA’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response team, which patrols roads, NFL games, and political conventions, needs to be shuttered now. No one asked for these ad hoc teams of TSA agents, and no one will miss them.

Restructure the agency. The TSA needs to trim its $8-billion-a-year budget by eliminating a vast layer of ineffective middle management and reducing the size of its force, which is often referred to as “Thousands Standing Around.”

Retrain TSA’s workforce. Frontline TSA agents like to see themselves as the last line of defense against terrorism. They aren’t. Rather, they are the face of the federal government, and at the moment, it’s not a good one. Agents need basic customer-service training, and they need to be aware of the civil rights and disabilities concerns of passengers.

The TSA’s critics have a vision of what the agency could be: rather than the paramilitary organization that strikes fear in the hearts of law-abiding Americans, an agency focused on excellent customer service that helps Americans travel safer.

I’ve seen glimpses of this organization from time to time when I fly. It is the TSA agent who smiles and helps an elderly passenger in a wheelchair through the screening area instead of barking at her. It is the more common sense security line afforded to TSA Pre-Check passengers and airline crewmembers.

And I think: It could be this way for all of us. It should be.

When it is, this watchdog will rest.

Can airport security be improved?

View Results

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Update (5 p.m.): I should have known better than to fly on the same day one of these columns posts. Let’s just say today’s trip from Denver to Reno could have gone better.

A stone-faced TSA agent tried to force me through a scanner, which would have separated me from the rest of my family. I politely opted out of the machine.

My screener, Officer Johnson (I’m not making this up — that’s his real name) was, um, very enthusiastic. He nearly succeeded in pulling down my pants twice.

In fact, all of the agents at the screening area seemed happy to see me patted down. I asked my son to take pictures of the event. Yes, that expression on my face is one of annoyance. What are these characters protecting us from, again?

1-photo (1)

206 thoughts on “Airport security can be better — and here’s how

  1. I don’t think the TSA is quite as bad or evil as some people seem to think it is. Having said that, it’s certainly miles from perfect either. So I really don’t like the poll question because it makes people choose between an extreme and the watchdogs. And there are a wide range of the later, some have good points and whom I support, and some that are more than a little nuts.

    1. Thanks for standing up for civil liberties, buddy. Obviously you are in denial. Your opinion is short sighted and ignorant to empirical evidence and common sense, as well as facts about TSA’s incompetence. None of which I will present to you as you’re a grown man and can do your own research.

      1. Hi Marcus:

        Looks like you’re new to the site (or perhaps only your Disqus handle is new), but just so you know: We welcome discussion (and spirited discussion at that!) Chris’ topics tend to be polarizing. While disagreeing with someone’s comments is one thing (whether or not you choose to try to change someone’s opinion) we don’t look too kindly on ad hominems.

        Thanks for respecting the spirit of this forum.

        1. Could you please identify the ad hominem? Unfortunately, I can’t find it. It would be helpful to know what exactly you are objecting to. That would make it possible for us to avoid offending you in the future.

          Also, could you please identify yourself? It would be helpful to know whether or not the blogger espousing a certain viewpoint and the moderator are one and the same person. For all we know, you and technomage could be the same person.

          I remember in the past someone with the handle Fly, Icarus, Fly making passionate pro TSA statements. Is that you? (If my memory is faulty, please correct me. I have no problem admitting a mistake when I make one.)

          The reason I ask is that I’m assuming moderators can best perform their job when they are unbiased and objective. It would be helpful for all the readers to know whether the moderators are unbiased or whether they have their own agenda.

          1. NOTE TO MODERATORS: FYI, people reading replies via email, such as myself, do not get any indicator that a response is from a moderator or not. So someone reading and replying via email may never know they are talking to a moderator. And because moderators use their moderator flagged account for making non-moderating replies, it could be helpful to add a signature indicating that it is a moderation message. With out it, it would just be another reply from the general audience. Or have a special account to post from for moderation messages. Just a suggestion.

          2. Thanks, EdB…I will be sure so flag my responses appropriately. I appreciate the education on how the email works.
            -scott (Moderator)

          3. Hi, Ed. Thanks for your post. I’m also a moderator. Most of us are fairly new at this and still trying to strike a balance. FYI, when I post as a moderator, my name appears as GrantRitchie, with a “Moderator” tag. When I post just as me (and I do), I post as Grant. I used to post as Grant Ritchie (without the Moderator tag), but thought that might be confusing, so I shortened it to “Grant”.
            Also, for whatever it’s worth, I’ve never seen any evidence of pro OR anti TSA bias from any of my fellow moderators (there are about 10 of us), and perceptions of some folks to the contrary, I’m not biased about TSA, either. What I think we’re all biased about is the few posters who seem to thrive on arguing endlessly and insulting people (sheeple?) who don’t happen to share their point of view. That’s what we’re trying to stop.

          4. Grant, with all due respect, your statement that “I’ve never seen any evidence of pro OR anti TSA bias from any of my fellow moderators” is a bit short sighted if not disingenuous.

            One simply has to look at the numbers of reprimands issued to anti-TSA bloggers as opposed to the numbers of reprimands issued to pro-TSA bloggers. Let’s look at the past three weeks, the posts of February 27, March 6, and March 13.

            In those three posts, there were nine reprimands issued to bloggers. All of the reprimands, except for the one issued today, were issued by you personally, so I assume you are familiar with the reprimands to which I am referring.

            Eight of the nine reprimands were issued to anti-TSA bloggers. The one and only reprimand issued to a pro-TSA blogger was issued only AFTER I personally pointed out comments made by DavidYoung2 as extremely similar to the comments you had characterized as “attacks” by anti-TSA bloggers. I asked you to be even-handed in your reprimands, and you acceded to my request. The sheer weight of the numbers involved here suggests bias.

            The most glaring evidence of bias was the reprimand issued to an anti-TSA blogger who was the victim of a wild and baseless accusation of racism by SoBeSparky, a passionate pro-TSA blogger. You issued a reprimand to the victim of that baseless accusation, but did not issue a reprimand to the pro-TSA blogger who made the baseless accusation.

            Following that fiasco, a pro-TSA blogger made an openly racist statement about Italian men. You issued no reprimand. When anti-TSA bloggers complained, you said “he has been spoken to.” While I don’t mean to imply that your statement is false, all anti-TSA bloggers received public reprimands, not private ones. Indeed, it is not clear that a reprimand was issued privately either, since “spoken to” does not give a clear indication of what was said to the pro-TSA blogger who made the racist comment.

            In the meantime, pro-TSA bloggers DavidYoung2, bodega3, JohnBaker, and SoBeSparky were running rampant with “attacks” against anti-TSA bloggers. (If you really need me to, I can go through and quote them all, but do we really need to do that?) Not one of them was ever issued a reprimand even though they spewed out some pretty nasty, ugly comments.

            So….you’ve never seen any evidence of pro OR anti TSA bias? Perhaps this reminder will be helpful in clearing up your eyesight.

          5. I can’t speak for any other moderator (nor would I want to try), but I do not work in the travel industry, and travel 3-5x year for either work or leisure.

            I have been a longtime reader of and Christopher’s work elsewhere. For me, I do really enjoy the discussions — even if intense — so long as points are being actively discussed.

            I don’t consider myself overly conservative where speech is concerned (I’m sure my coworkers and family would vouch for the fact that I usually speak out more often than I should), but do find when discussions denigrate into an insult contest (and I think most of us have seen something like that somewhere on the Internet), I tend to frequent those threads or sites less.

            I am by no means a TSA apologist — I’m much more libertarian in my political leanings and have my suspicions about some so-called “well meaning” government programs.

            Daisiemae, not sure if that helps with the other mods, but that’s where I’m coming from. 🙂


          6. Scott,

            Thank you very much for your reply. I respect your position. You come across as a very reasonable and honest person.

            I also hate the insult contests. I think they are unproductive and a big waste of time and energy. So we agree on that point.

            There is another thing that I also hate. I have to admit I have always had a big bee in my bonnet when it comes to fairness. I just go crazy when I see something that is unfair and unjust. My biggest pet peeve is watching people in a position of power use that position unfairly to advance their own agendas, usually at the cost of other people.

            Over the last several weeks, I have observed moderator reprimands that appear extremely biased and unfair. First of all, I have never seen such extreme reprimands on any other blog. It appears draconian and repressive to free dialogue and intercourse.

            However, it is not my blog. The owner of the blog (and I assume his moderators) can make any rules he/they wish to govern the blog. If he/they wish to make rules that interfere with free discourse, it is his/their prerogative. Go for it.

            But whatever those rules may be, they should be clearly delineated and applied evenly to all. They should not become a tool for individual moderators to use to further their own agenda and to punish and banish bloggers who express an opinion which disagrees with their own…all while giving free rein to those bloggers in their own camp to use and abuse the opposition with impunity.

            Over that past few weeks, I have observed numerous reprimands issued to anti-TSA bloggers. Many of those reprimands were unfounded and arbitrary…such as the reprimand issued today for an “ad hominem.” Most of the reprimands were issued for “attacks,” most of which were either non-existent or not worth getting worked up about.

            One reprimand was issued to an anti-TSA blogger who was wildly and baselessly accused of racism. No reprimand was issued to the pro-TSA blogger who made the baseless accusation.

            During those same few weeks, I have NEVER observed a reprimand issued to a pro-TSA blogger without FIRST being called out by the protests of the opposite side. A pro-TSA blogger made a comment that all Italian men were sexist pigs. He was reprimanded only after a hailstorm of protests from the anti-TSA side of the camp. (The moderator stated that “he has been spoken to.” The reprimand did not appear on the blog as all other reprimands did.)

            Another pro-TSA blogger referred to TSA opponents as TSA-loonies and “a bunch of jack wagons.” He was reprimanded only after I pointed out that his comments appeared to meet the moderator’s definition of “attack.”

            These are the only two reprimands that I have ever seen issued to a pro-TSA blogger. If there are any others that I have missed, I will be happy to correct my error.

            If you check back to the blog from two weeks ago entitled “If you love TSA, read this story,” you can find some very aggressive, nasty comments made by bloggers DavidYoung2, JohnBaker, bodgea3, and SoBeSparky that were never reprimanded by the moderators. JohnBaker even went so far as to state “I would like to thank the Anti-TSA lobby for proving my point today. Every personal attack has come from that side of the aisle. I have seen one yet come from anywhere else…” Please read my reply to his post pointing out the fallacy of his statement…including his own attack against me personally.

            To add insult to injury, it is my understanding that John Baker is a moderator of this blog. If I am mistaken, I am happy to correct my error. However, I do not see how it is possible for a moderator with such a strong bias and who makes unchecked character assassinations on opposing bloggers to be an effective moderator.

            So this is the crux of the matter for me: If the moderators want to enforce strict rules on this blog, so be it. That is their prerogative. But publish the rules so everybody (both bloggers and moderators) knows what they are, and enforce them evenly on all bloggers. Don’t use them as a tool to push your own agenda.

            Chris Elliott has a reputation for fairness and honesty. The moderators of his blog should have the same reputation.

          7. I hope this makes it through because email replies seem to be hit or miss with getting posted.

            Daisiemae, I too have seen what appears to be one sided moderation in regards to the TSA threads. What I find interesting is that Chris seems to be very much on the “TSA-hater” side yet the moderation has been against those on the same side as Chris.

            Moderating these types of forums is not easy. I have done it in the past myself. It is very subjective as to when something crosses the line. For example, say a Pro-TSA person makes a borderline posting. A reply from an Anti-TSA person, in and of it self may also be borderline, but when taken with the first comment, starts to cross the line. Because of the limitation of this forum software, the moderation could be viewed as only applying to one of the participants. Chris and I had such an exchange just this morning (non-moderating messages).

            I personally was fingered out with an inappropriate blacklisting so I can relate to your position. I made a suggestion earlier for changes that might help with the moderation. Given the limitations of this forum software, other that having the moderator name everyone involved with their reply, it is going to look like one sided moderation at times. Maybe the moderators could use this opportunity to discuss ways to improve commissions when moderating to try and avoid the situation more.

          8. Thank you very much for your reply. That sounds reasonable and sincere. I appreciate it very much.

            I also appreciate that you and Chris are making attempts to make things fair.

            It makes things easier to know you all are aware of the situation and trying to find solutions.

          9. Hi Ed,

            Thanks for your post. You’re exactly right. Often, one poster will make a borderline statement, then another will say something which, along with the first post, pushes the conversation into an area where we as moderators would just as soon not see it. So, we jump in with a warning. Of course, that warning shows up in the thread as a response to only the last post, and that gives the appearance of bias. I have to admit that, recently, I’ve been guilty of making that mistake, so your point is very well taken.

            Please know that there is no bias from any moderator against the anti-TSA folks. I will forward your post and my reply to all of the moderators, and we’ll try to remember to address our warnings to both parties in future. Please haul us up short if we drop the ball. Thanks again for your post.

          10. Perhaps if you in the text of your post point out what the trigger point was and who the post is directed to including all participants?

          11. I’ll try. And as I said to EdB, if you see me falling short, please let me know. Thanks for the suggestion.

          12. Daisiemae If you go back to the post in question, you’ll actually see that Chris had made the point in his post that most attacks come for the “TSA Apologists.” When I made my post, it was before some others then proved me wrong and started getting ugly.

            Since you decided to “out” me, yes I am a moderator. I don’t post with a moderator’s tag because when I post on the blog I post as me and not as Chris’s moderator. If you could see the discussions behind the scenes, you would see a number of things… That includes that I generally argue to protect Chris and his blog even when his view point or those expressed by others I don’t agree with. That anytime I post I tell the moderators to feel free to moderate my posts as any others (no harm no foul and if I push too far I need to know). That I also argue against personal attacks but allowing everyone to share their few point in a civil manner. If you don’t want to do that, there are other blogs that you can post on, like Lisa’s that aren’t moderated.

            More specific to you post. Marcus Crassus’s post was seen as an attack because of this statement “Thanks for standing up for civil liberties, buddy. Obviously you are in denial.” There’s no reason for it, the point could have been made without it and its a direct attack against the poster. You can see Fly, Icarus, Fly’s post about more of his reasoning

            Anyone that knows Chris would understand that Chris is very passionate about the view that he expresses on Wednesday. He’s also passionate about keeping this as a civil, family viewable blog. Chris has seen the same research that I have nastiness expressed in the comment section on blogs can destroy a blog.

          13. Oh Daisiemae… One more point, I make it a point not to moderate on Wednesdays since Chris and I have very different views. In fact, I very rarely do much beyond the administrivia required to run the site like approving flagged comments.

          14. John,

            Please point to one statement that I have ever made on this blog where I suggested that I do not want to be civil. Just one. I’ll eat my hat. There’s the first “attack” you are making…a completely unfair characterization of my personal behavior and intentions. Definitely an ad hominem. Where is the moderator’s reprimand for this ad hominem?

            Please point to one statement that I have ever made on this blog where I suggested that I don’t respect Chris (as you accused me in the March 11 post “Denied a room because they’re not gay enough?”

            “If you can’t respect what Chris is trying to do, why not just stay on Lisa’s blog?” That’s your exact quote, John. It’s a false and baseless accusation. If that is not an “attack”, what is? Where is the moderator’s reprimand for this “attack?”

            And here you are as a moderator trying a second time to intimidate me away from this blog. Why? Because I asked for fair and even-handed treatment for all bloggers. First class bullying by a moderator…where is the moderator’s reprimand for bullying another blogger?

            And you really had the gall to state the following in the February 27 post “If you love the TSA, read this story:”

            “I would like to thank the Anti-TSA lobby for proving my point today. Every personal attack has come from that side of the aisle. I have seen one yet come from anywhere else…”

            That’s a very disingenuous statement considering that in that same blog you made a pretty nasty attack against me. Your “attack” in addition to all the nasty, aggressive comments made by DavidYoung2, SoBeSparky, and bodega 3 in that same blog can certainly be characterized as “attacks.” Where are all the moderator reprimands for all these attacks? And why are you pretending that no one from the Pro-TSA side has ever made any of these “attacks?”

            Since you profess to know so much about me, John, let me tell you what I really stand for. I stand for fairness, transparency, honesty, and justice.

            I don’t profess to know anything about you and your character. But I do know that your statements are not consistent with those values.

            And your statements carry more power simply because you are a moderator. You can threaten to have a blogger blacklisted and banished to “Lisa’s blog” because you are a moderator. You can paint all anti-TSA bloggers as vicious lunatics because you are a moderator. You can attack other bloggers at will because you are a moderator. And none of the other moderators will reprimand you because you are a moderator.

            I will repeat what I said in a comment to Scott. Chris Elliott has a reputation for fairness and honesty. The moderators of his blog should have that same reputation.

          15. Hi Daisiemae:

            We’re mostly strangers here in the sense that we don’t know each other in real life. So, say you expressed your opinion to a stranger in a grocery store (or wherever) to which they responded, “Daisiemae, your opinion is short sighted and ignorant to empirical evidence and common sense”. Would you consider that an attack on you? Or would you let it pass because it was prefaced with “your opinion”?

            How would you like for me to identify myself? Follow my profile and it’ll lead you straight to me.

            Passionate pro-TSA statements? Click on my disqus name to see all my comments. If you find an agenda, please let me know because I didn’t realize I had one.

          16. Thank you very much for pointing me to the profile. I was indeed mistaken that you were a person I remembered posting passionate proTSA statements. I must have had you mixed up with someone else. Thank you for correcting me.

            I’m particularly glad that you enlightened me as there has been some confusion over who the moderators are. There has been an appearance that the moderators are using their position to foster one side of this position. I am happy to know that you are not one of that number.

            I believe you can agree with me that a person with a strong bias towards one position or the other would not make for a good moderator, especially on a subject as emotionally charged as TSA. I am happy to know that I was mistaken on that point, at least with regard to you.

            As for making that comment in a grocery store, I would feel extremely threatened if a stranger approached me and made any comments to me whatsoever about any opinions. That person would have the ability to physically harm me.

            On an internet blog, there is no such danger. The blogger can not strike me, stab me, shoot me, or take me hostage. For the time being, an internet blog remains a safe place to express opinions freely without fear of reprisal. That’s why it is so important to retain our freedom of speech in this format.

            Again, I’m sorry for the misunderstanding regarding your past position. Please accept my apology. And please do your best to work with the other moderators to come up with a fair approach to this issue.

          17. In looking back over our exchange, I realized that I missed an important part of your question to me. I would like to respond to that now.

            So, say you expressed your opinion to a stranger in a grocery store (or wherever) to which they responded, “Daisiemae, your opinion is short sighted and ignorant to empirical evidence and common sense”. Would you consider that an attack on you? Or would you let it pass because it was prefaced with “your opinion

            I was focused on the public aspect of the grocery store, but I missed the main part of your question regarding attacks on opinions v. attacks on people themselves.

            First of all, I am basing my definition of “attacks” on the eleven reprimands that have been issued by the moderators over the last three weeks. Over and over, the moderator has stated “attack the post, not the poster.” The statement that you referenced is clearly an attack on the post, not the poster, so it meets the criteria previously established by the moderator as acceptable.

            Now for my personal opinion, if we cannot criticize, argue, and debate opinions, what is the purpose of an Internet blog? The idea of freely expressing and debating our opinions is ingrained in the very idea of being American. It’s part of the fabric of life. If we are now to regard the challenging of someone’s opinion as being a personal attack, we lose a very important part of our American heritage.

            If someone (not a stranger in a public place who might harm me, but someone with whom I am having a legitimate discussion) told me that my opinion is shortsighted and ignorant to empirical evidence, I would first ask him to back that up with proof. If he could indeed prove that my opinion was shortsighted and ignorant to empirical evidence, I would adjust my opinion accordingly. Indeed, I have done this countless times in my own life.

            However, if that same person told me that I am a shortsighted and ignorant person…well, them’s fight in’ words. That is an ugly, below the belt insult of my personal character. See the difference?

            Speaking of below the belt insults, I have received a very ugly one on this blog from bodega3. Without any foundation whatsoever, she accused me of hating everyone who disagrees with me. That’s a pretty despicable accusation; wouldn’t you agree?. It’s definitely an attack against the poster, not the post. There couldn’t possibly be any confusion about that. That accusation paints me as a pretty reprehensible character, doesn’t it? I’ve asked bodega3 to provide one single quote in which I have ever expressed such a thing, but she has declined to do so.

            I am sad to say that not one moderator has issued a reprimand to bodega3 for this ugly insult. With your commitment to preserving civility on this blog, I am certain you will take appropriate action. That’s why I am bringing it to your attention. I am certain you could not have seen this ugly insult, or you would definitely have taken action before now.

            So I hope I have answered your question about the difference between attacking an opinion and attacking a person. If you have any additional questions, please let me know. I’ll do my best.

          18. >>I am certain you could not have seen this ugly insult, or you would definitely have taken action before now. – Daisiemae

            Your assumption is a valid one.

            However, there is no way the moderators did NOT see the comment in question. I personally flagged it because it was a hateful and baseless attack. And I know I’m not the only one who flagged it. To be clear, bodega3’s remark, the REMARK, was hateful, NOT bodega3.

            It is clear that the moderators of this blog are unhinged. Drunk on the power of petty grievance.

            And that’s too bad because Chris is a powerful and reasoned voice in this far too important debate. It’s unfortunate that it can be clouded by people with no other agenda than, “Well I”m fine with whatever TSA dishes out because it never happens to me.”

          19. Thanks for letting me know that you flagged that comment. I was trying to be respectful and give Icarus the benefit of the doubt. She came across as a sincere and reasonable person, so I thought I might appeal to that.

            Give her time. Maybe she really did not see the comment. She might be involved in life and simply did not read it. That’s what I am hoping.

            On the other hand, I believe you are right that it’s inconceivable that not one single moderator has seen that insult. It’s pretty shameful if any one of them has read that comment and has not issued a reprimand.

            Although, I have noticed, it looks like bodega’s followup insult was deleted. I’m not certain, but I couldn’t find it just now. So if it has been deleted, I guess that is a start.

            So I am just waiting to see what happens. If not one of the moderators issues a reprimand, it’s a terrible indictment of their unfair and biased agenda.

            Notice: An indictment of their agenda…not their own personal character. I have no idea what their personal character is…I don’t even know who they all are.

        2. I would much appreciate it if you could please specifically point out where my “ad hominem” is concerning the aforementioned post that appears to be in question by you. I am unable to locate it. Any help on this matter would be much appreciated. And thank you for the snark. Is this yahoo answers?

          1. Snark from a moderator should be tolerated, and indeed welcomed, whether they are posting under their moderator moniker or their other pseudonym.

            Snark from you, prole, is unacceptable.

            See how easy that was?

          2. I thought that might be sarcasm, but you are so good at it, I was temporarily blinded. I think it might have slipped past all the Sheldons.

            Oops, sorry Sheldon. Don’t worry. I have already flagged myself.

        3. Still waiting for you to point out that apparent dignity shredding ad hominem to me. I see you addressed someone else regarding it though I do not see why you haven’t addressed it with me. If you have an issue with what I said (which I stand by it one hundred percent technomage’s opinion again is short sighted and speaks of denial. I thank him yet again for standing up for civil liberties) then I would think as a “moderator” you would take up your grievance with my self.

      2. And, on cue, one of the “wide range” shows up. Thanks for proving my point for me. Did you miss the “miles from perfect” portion of my post in your haste to attack me? Or did you just read the first sentence and hit reply?

        Do I think the TSA is perfect, absolutely not. Far from it. But that does not mean every self styled watchdog out there has my support either. That’s my objection to the poll question.

        Anything else you chose to add on comes from your own head.

        1. Basically the poll question is skewed to garner the result being shown. Which is a negative to the TSA. I think very few people would think that the TSA was a gold standard. Thus the only other option is one that is negative to the TSA which if answering the poll can be taken in a way other than what you mean. This is how people can get polls to come out in a manner in which they wish them to.

        2. Oh I stand by every word of my criticism of your position. I missed nothing of your post. Rather I replied in full to it. I believe your opinion is short sighted, and ignorant. I encourage you to research TSA failure rates, empirical and logical evidence concerning TSA practice,policy and procedure. I also encourage you to research the odds of dieing in a terrorist attack in reference to being killed/injured by a policeman, as well as in reference to being struck by lightning. Furthermore, you mite want to read the fourth, fifth, and sixth amendments of the United States Constitution.

      3. Hmmmm…..I’m trying to find that ad hominem. I looked up the definition of ad hominem and found “attacking an opponent’s character rather than answering his argument.”

        So here goes: “Thanks for standing up for civil liberties, buddy.” A clear reference to taking a certain position…no reference to character. I think you would have to go a little further and state that the OP’s position shows a lack of character or something like that to rise to the level of ad hominem.

        “Obviously, you are in denial.” Again, a reference to a position. You think the OP is wrong about his position. No reference here to the OP’s character.

        “Your OPINION (emphasis mine) is short sighted and ignorant to empirical evidence and common sense, as well as facts about TSA’s incompetence.” Well, that is self-explanatory. The subject of this sentence (I admit it, I’m a former English teacher) is “your opinion” so that makes the entire sentence about an opinion, not character.

        Finally, we have “you’re a grown man and can do your own research.” Now here we may stray just a bit into ad hominmen territory. The statement does actually refer to a personal characteristic rather than an argument or position.

        It appears you may have been in error assuming that the OP is a grown man and capable of doing his own research. It is possible that technomage is a woman, or an adolescent, or a child. It is possible that technomage is NOT capable of doing his or her own research. Technomage may have a learning disability or some other disability that prevents him or her from doing his or her own research.

        On the face of it, I can’t see that the comment is intentionally offensive. I think what you really meant is that the OP is assumed to be a fully functional adult with full mental and social capabilities and that under that assumption, you refuse to cater to the OP as if he/she were a child. I can’t possibly see how assuming the OP to possess full mental and social capabilities could be offensive.

        However, it does appear that moderator has doubts that technomage is a fully functional adult capable of adult activities. It appears that the moderator finds that assumption to be insulting.

        Perhaps the moderator will enlighten us as to why he/she finds this assumption so offensive. I’m afraid my feeble brain cannot understand it.

        1. I feel safe in my position that your fourth, fifth, and sixth amendment rights were violated. Search without warrant or probable cause, you were forced to be a witness against yourself, and since you were never charged and had a criminal search performed on you without ever having a speedy trial then I’d say you got a lawsuit on your hands Mr. Elliot and I don’t think it would be unethical for you to pursue one despite your profession.

      4. In my 50+ years of existence on this planet, I’ve learned that, the vast majority of the time, when someone says, “I’d explain it to you, but a) you wouldn’t understand, b)it’s so obvious even YOU should get it, or c) you can look it up yourself, then they probably really CAN’T explain it to you. This blog BEGS for people to explain their difference of opinions. It’s what makes it interesting.

        1. In your 50+ years of existence (which I don’t see how your age matters at all) have you ever done any sort of research on your own? I would think anyone already commenting here would be informed on all matters pertaining to it. If you cannot take initiative and check peoples facts/comments for validity that is your problem as the reader not mine.

          1. Higher age = more experience

            And I would think that someone who has done the research and has the empirical evidence to back up his/her opinion would be more than willing to share it. Most people – not all, but most – who have taken the time to fully research a subject and form a strong opinion on it are ready, willing, and able to share the fruits of their labor. I stand by my opinion that those who make statements like, “I’d prove you wrong with my vast knowledge and overwhelming intellectual prowess, but you’re obviously too slow and dimwitted to understand my superior logic, ” usually really can’t back up their opinions.

            High school debate team (which led to the requisite research mentality); many, many, many political discussions, generally an argumentative nature (shoulda been a lawyer) with the optional smart-aleck personality, but a willingness to concede points when proven wrong – that’s what 50 years got me.

          2. I fail to see how higher age automatically equates to higher anything but age. Your age has nothing to do with anything here. If you cannot take the time to do your own research and fact checking then that is your problem. Perhaps your age is slowing you down? Don’t make this into something regarding age as it can go both ways (if we are following your logic).

          3. Sure, I’ll debate this. And since you’ve opened the door to personal attacks – “Perhaps your age is slowing you down?” – perhaps you’re lacking in basic logical thought. How can you argue that higher age doesn’t equal more experience? Didn’t say BETTER experience, or make any statement as to the QUALITY of exprience, just the QUANTITY. By definition, the longer you’ve been around, the more experience you have; it’s pretty simple

    2. There is nothing wrong with the poll question here. The question asks if the TSA is doing everything right, or if it needs to improve. Only “extreme” would be doing everything right. The other side of the question covers the 1-100% area that needs to be address.

        1. Was that suppose to be a reply to me? I wasn’t criticizing your poll question. I was responding to the comment that the question makes people choose extremes, which it doesn’t.

        1. No you aren’t alone, just that it isn’t worth posting on the day that have become the bash the TSA. There isn’t any discussion from the anti TSA posters, just attacks.

          1. Yes, bodega, I know exactly what you mean. All those “attacks” are getting tiresome, aren’t they?

            Here are a few of those tiresome “attacks” from past posts:

            You are right to feel sorry for yourself. With all your complaining it must be a sad life to be so angry. Good luck!–bodega3, Is there a better way to
            screen airline passengers? February 20, 2013

            Interesting how you twist things, but in reading your rants, I shouldn’t.–bodega3, Is there a better way to screen airline passengers? February 20, 2013

            I feel badly for TSA haters in more way than one. Sadly on places like this blog, an expession of view different than theirs gets twisted and attacked. Just exactly what they seem to feel everyone gets treated at the airport. They like to dish it out
            themselves just in a different format.–bodega3, If you love TSA, read this story February 27, 2013

            Wow, what a way to have a discussion. Attack those with different views. Very impressive…not!–bodega3, If you love TSA, read this story February 27, 2013

            Pretty nasty “attacks,” huh? Can you believe the moderators never reprimanded the perpetrator of these “attacks?”

            You’re so right! It makes things very unpleasant on Wednesdays to have all these “attacks” going on.

          2. Yes, you just proved it again. Not worth posting when discussions aren’t done, just yelling, twisting of words of those who don’t agree with you. I am sympathic to those who have had a negative experience and but I don’t understand the hate you have for everyone who hasn’t and doesn’t agree with you.

          3. Whoa! Hold it right there! I never said that I hate anyone, and you cannot provide one single quote I have ever made on this blog where I stated or even implied that I hate anyone. I resent your accusation that I hate people who disagree with me. You have absolutely zero proof of that. Back your accusation up with proof or withdraw it immediately.

            I haven’t twisted anything and I am certainly not yelling. I resent your accusation that I have done any of that. The words that I provided were direct quotes of yours. If that is twisting and yelling, then you are the author of that, not I.

            This is a classic “attack” where you are stereotyping a group of people and then placing a negative label on that group of people and then lumping me into that group. You are making a variety of accusations against me…all of them untrue and unfounded.

            I fully expect to see a reprimand from the moderators for this unbridled “attack.”

          4. Hmmm….two days have passed and no reprimand. I guess we can interpret that as the moderators placing their seal of approval on insults of this type as long as they are directed towards anti-TSA bloggers.

            Ten reprimands to anti-TSA bloggers over 3 weeks and one begrudging reprimand (after strenuous protest from the other side) issued to pro-TSA bloggers in the same time period seems to indicate the position of the moderators.

            Ironic, isn’t it, that their position seems to be in direct opposition to the blog owner and to the 553 out of 571 people who voted in support of his position.

          5. Agree 100%. I generally skip the Wednesday post for that very reason. It’s basically bash TSA day. And anyone who doesn’t think that the TSA was spawned from Satan is basically sheeple, out of touch,,,(insert favorite insult here)

          6. Clark, I never insulted anybody. I never bashed anybody. Bodega did a pretty good job bashing me. She made some ugly accusations and refused to provide any proof to back them up.

            How does that fit your theory? From my seat, it looks like Wednesday is bash anti-TSA bloggers day. Call them names. Insult them, bait them, and if they protest their treatment, call it an “attack” and get the moderators to punish them for daring to complain.

            And I notice that the moderators have not yet issued a reprimand to bodega for those ugly accusations she made. I guess that proves my argument, doesn’t it?

  2. The “hardware” side of the TSA is endemic of our entire “security” structure, wear we throw money at “defense” and “security” contractors without real regards to the taxpayers. Now, if we actually paid our TSA agents more, we could recruit more professional agents, but Congress limited the personnel budget of the TSA while giving an almost blank check to the “hardware” budget of the TSA.

      1. So what you’re saying is that American citizens should, in order to travel about their country, have to show up at the airport three hours early and face a potentially invasive government interrogation about the most intimate aspects of their lives?

        Just checking.

        1. Well, we already have to show up early and are invasively scanned. If it comes down to a virtual strip search or some questions, ill take the questions thanks.

          However it’s unlikely that if the principles behind the Israeli method are employed in the US that we’d see things like that often, since we do not face the same threat level they do. Note I didn’t say never as threat levels can and do change.

          1. I have a better idea: no interrogation at all (it is none of a government worker’s business where I am staying, who I am seeing, what I am doing at my destination, as I travel about the country), and no virtual strip search or frisking without probable cause of wrongdoing.

            Pretty revolutionary, huh?

          2. Oh, don’t you know those guys are old fuddie duddies? Those silly documents they wrote up all those years ago are soooo retro! We need not be concerned with them. Our federal government has assured us of that.

          3. Well, the censors struck again. My joke that had absolutely zero attack against anybody but myself was deleted. Once again, I am punished for attacking myself.

            I suspect the real reason my post was deleted was that it highlighted the folly of a nonsensical reprimand issued against me a few days ago. But then, why not delete the nonsensical reprimand, and then there will be nothing to joke about.

            I wonder if this will be deleted also?

          4. You ever actually fly out of Israel? I have at least 20 times and I can tell you their system won’t work here. They don’t do virtual strips there – they do real ones. And I can tell you their pat-downs are a whole lot more intrusive that any I’ve encountered at a U.S. airport. And you can’t tell me their profiling that great: I’m an American Jew born in the American Mid-west usually in Israel to visit friends for either Rosh Hashanah or Passover.

        1. No amount of security in a system of this nature is foolproof. That doesn’t mean that some systems aren’t more effective than others. If you don’t like isreal as the gold standard, then whom would you suggest? Undoubtedly some countries do this better than others.

          1. Pre-TSA checkpoints of metal detectors and baggage x-rays, with hardened and locked cockpit doors and passengers and crew who will not cooperate with anyone trying to take over the plane.

            There you go. Satisfied?

          2. Locked doors and non cooperating passengers aside, and I’m not saying those are bad things, the system you’re referring to failed catastrophically because it failed to adapt to a change in threat level. Now, part of that was they didn’t get told about the threat. Not their fault. But an honest assessment of the capabilities at the time shows they couldn’t have responded, except to do what was done – shut down. And that’s a problem.

            A couple of guys with box cutters killed 3k people and paralyzed the US for a week, with ripples that lasted for far longer than that. Could they do that today? Maybe, but certainly not as easily. Unfortunately, as security has changed its tactics so have they.

            I believe, and this is based on extensive training and security experience (nothing to do with the TSA) any US transportation security initiative must have flexibility to deal rapidly with changing threat conditions, especially given that these people are willing to die to accomplish their goals. It’s very, very hard to design a system to counter that.

            Much as I’d like to roll back the clock, I don’t think that’s realistic.

          3. >> the system you’re referring to failed catastrophically

            The overall system failed, yes.

            But was there any failure at the checkpoints? Not at all.

            >> Much as I’d like to roll back the clock,
            >> I don’t think that’s realistic.

            Not as long as our “security” is governed by emotion and by lining the pockets of companies banging at DHS’s door.

          4. What I’m driving at is this: pre 9/11 if the President had heeded the warnings, the only way to respond would have been to shut down airports. The security system did not have mechanisms in place then to “ramp up” security. Even shutting down airports would have been problematic. The FAA would have had to ground every single flight in the US.

            I want you to really picture this, because I think that there would have been widespread outrage had this happened for an unspecified threat. Sure, after the attacks everyone cooperated. The threat was apparent then. But to prevent them? Oh man, people would have been up in arms.

            You bring up very valid points in the last sentence. I agree security should not be governed by emotion or by companies with juicy contracts. As I’ve made clear elsewhere, I believe the TSA has miles to go, but I also believe they’ve made some significant strides in terms of operational authority, lines of communication, threat matrixing, targeted response, and physical security measures. I don’t want to “throw the baby out with the bath water” as it were.

          5. From what I have read, we had the information to stop 9/11 if all the agencies had shared information. 9/11 was more an intelligence failure than a security one in my opinion.

          6. I don’t disagree, but even if the warnings had been heeded and passed along the system didn’t have the capability to respond properly to it. That’s a problem to me.

          7. The airport security system would not had have to respond. Local and Federal law enforcement agencies would have addressed the issue.

          8. Look at what happened when that was actually done. It was a complete cluster. The US military had to come in (and we are NOT a law enforcement agency) to accomplish this because the lines of communication and inter agency cooperation were not there. And this was when everyone wanted to cooperate. Again, imagine if this was not the case.

            Don’t take my word for it. Look at the 9/11 commission report findings and the testimony of key officials at the time.

          9. What cluster are you referring to where the military was used? You talking about the “wars”? If so, that is a completely different discussion.

          10. No, I’m referring to the execution of the airport shutdown. It was freaking chaos & eventually the military was brought in. Remember how you’d see guys/gals in camouflage running around with m16s, even months after the attack?

          11. I didn’t go anywhere near an airport for several months after 9/11 because I didn’t have to do any traveling then so didn’t see it. But what you are describing is the after effects of the intelligence break down. If the intelligence break down hadn’t of occurred in the first place, your cluster example would never had happened. And the reason it was such a cluster to begin with was not because of 9/11, but because they were trying to do something they never put procedures in place to do, another failure that should have been planned for.

          12. And that’s exactly my point. There were no procedures, lines of communication, or clear chain of command in place. And that is something that is not the same today.

          13. >>And that is something that is not the same today

            False. It is EXACTLY the same today. Indeed it seems to be worse.

          14. >>You’ll forgive me if I assume bias from your screen name alone.

            Did you have a point, or are you just driving by for an ad hominem attack? You know those are forbidden here, no?

          15. I don’t believe assumption of bias from someone with a screen name that clearly indicates a rather extreme position is an ad hominiem attack. If I’m wrong I’m sure the mods will let me know.

          16. TSAisTerrorism,

            Don’t you know that no “attacks” have ever been made by pro-TSA bloggers? Why, they are innocent lambs, being voraciously devoured by slavering mad-dog anti-TSA lunatics!

            Shame on you for suggesting otherwise.

          17. Daisimae,

            Your comment has been flagged by your fellow posters. We would kindly request you stick to the topic and refrain from personal attacks.

          18. I must be missing something here. Who exactly was attacked? The response was sarcasm not aimed at anyone in particular. It was a comment about another comment made earlier.

          19. Edb,

            You are a true gentleman coming to my defense. Thank you very much.

            But you know, I really must be made to stop these attacks against myself. Apparently, I can’t help myself. It’s really for my own good, you know.

          20. How DARE you attack me by saying I am a true gentleman. No wait. That is insulting to the real true gentlemen in the world.

            For the Sheldon’s out there, this is sarcasm.

          21. EdB,

            Can you believe the moderators deleted my funny post back to you where I talked about being a Southern Belle and that you really are a true gentlemen? How ridiculous is that? What, am I giving away secret battle plans?

            In the meantime, this Southern belle will say again that you are a lovely man and a real gentleman. It’s been fun talking with you. Hopefully, we can do it again sometime. If the moderators allow it.

            Edited: Blogger Hal below reminded me of Hanlon’s Razor, and I have to say, I think he may be right. After I re-read the entire thread, I’m thinking the particular moderator who deleted my post to you may have read the entire thing literally and then deleted my post accordingly.

            I’ll soften my position that they are waging a personal war against me if that is the case. I’m willing to accept that it may be a case of misunderstanding rather than malice.

            But if is true that the moderator did indeed take my words literally, really, shouldn’t moderators be chosen from among people who are capable of comprehending irony and satire?

          22. Well, I have always been an original. I have now achieved a first on this blog. I am the first blogger to be reprimanded for “attacking” myself and my own group.

            I must admit, I am mystified as to the basis for this reprimand. Self-deprecatory humor has always been socially acceptable everywhere. For example, it is not acceptable for one ethnic group to make jokes about another ethnic group. That is offensive. But any ethnic group making fun of itself is socially acceptable and indeed humorous. A wide range of comedians from Ray Romano to Carlos Mencia to Chris Rock and many others have used this principle throughout their careers.

            Another example, I am free to criticize and poke fun of my family as I wish, but no one outside my family had better make fun of them in my presence.

            Since I was poking fun at my own “family” of anti-TSA bloggers, I invite them all to tell me whether they were offended by my humor. The objects of my humor are the only ones who truly have a right to object to it. (BTW, since I was one of the objects, I was not offended by my “attack” upon myself. Perhaps that will help to ease your concern.)

            Curiously enough, no moderator reprimand has been issued to technomage1 for his ad hominem “attack” on an opposing blogger:

            “You’ll forgive me if I assume bias from your screen name alone”

            This certainly is no self-deprecatory humor. I am mystified as to why this “attack” upon an opposing blogger is allowed and self-deprecatory humor pointed at oneself and one’s own side is not. I guess it’s only an “attack” when it is posted by an anti-TSA blogger.

            This reprimand brings the score for the past three weeks up to 10: anti-TSA and 1: pro-TSA (although the pro-TSA reprimand was only made after strong complaints from the other side, so that means there has really never been a real reprimand issued to a pro-TSA blogger on this blog). Hmmm….does this suggest any bias here?

            Since the moderators have never yet published a list of rules that we are to abide by, we are left to speculate on how we can best obey these unknown rules. Based on the constant reprimands issued to anti-TSA bloggers and the almost complete failure to enforce the same standards upon pro-TSA bloggers, here is my best guess at what these rules might be:

            1. Never criticize pro-TSA bloggers or disagree with them. On the other hand, feel free to criticize, attack, belittle, denigrate, or vilify anti-TSA bloggers to your heart’s content.

            2. Any time you disagree with an anti-TSA blogger, just flag their comment or complain that they have made an “attack.” The moderators will quickly reprimand your opponent. In this manner, anti-TSA bloggers will be chased from this site, and you will win your argument by default.

            3. Never use humor. Humor, and most importantly, sarcasm is strictly forbidden. Unless you are a pro-TSA blogger. Feel free to use as much sarcasm as you like when it is directed against anti-TSA bloggers.

            4. Never “attack” anyone including yourself. Even poking fun at yourself and your own teammates will be regarded as an attack. Unless you are a pro-TSA blogger. Then feel free to attack any anti-TSA blogger in sight in any manner which excites you.

            5. What constitutes an “attack” will not defined. This gives each moderator complete freedom to decide what constitutes an “attack.” This way the moderator can use the justification of an “attack” to punish any blogger who annoys them.

            Well, based on the actions of the moderators over the last three weeks, that’s the best guess I have of what the rules are . If I am incorrect about these rules, please enlighten me. I’m doing my best to figure out what the moderators want so we can stop all this unpleasantness. Or perhaps the moderators could publish the rules they wish us to follow (as I have repeatedly requested) and then we would not have to guess what they are.

            In the meantime, I can only say: Humor is the best medicine. It appears that all of us, both moderators and bloggers alike, are in need of a strong dose.

            In that spirit, I’d like to pass on some advice from the greatest doctor of all time. I think it’s timely advice here on this blog since there are so many things that we are not allowed to say:


          23. I must add one more rule to the list:

            6. Never mention the word “genitals.” Your post will be deleted immediately regardless of any context.

            Perhaps it would be helpful if the moderators would publish a list of prohibited words. It’s really impossible for me to guess what they all might be in order to list them here. I’m trying my best to help you make up this list of rules, but my imagination cannot possibly come up with a comprehensive list of all objectionable words. I doubt I even know all of them.

            A good suggestion for a starting place for your list of prohibited words can be found at the following:


          24. Seriously??! I’ve gone back and read Daisymae’s comments so far and I can’t find one instance of her launching a personal attack.

          25. Markie,

            Thank you very much. I do try hard to keep everything non-personal. I’m not saying I won’t make a misstep sometime, but I do believe you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. In the event that I do cross the line and insult someone at some point, that person need only point out my offense. I always apologize when I make a mistake or unintentionally hurt someone. Two of my apologies can be found on Chris’ website.

            My downfall is my rampant and crazed sense of humor coupled with my deep, rigidly ingrained dislike of unfairness. The combination of those two traits will likely cause my self destruction.

          26. Well, Markie, for someone who has never launched a personal attack, it appears that I am a favorite target of the moderators. They have already deleted three of my posts, non-attacking as they were.

            What a warlike group! I wonder what will happen to me by the time they finish? Do you think they will settle for banning me from the blog? Or will they demand blood?

            Tune in next week to find out! Same time, same station.

          27. Chris

            If your moderators are going to slap someone’s hand – publicly – then they better be ready to defend their decision. So far, nothing from this moderator as to why he/she admonished Daisiemae. Perhaps you should do periodic “house-cleaning” of your moderators?

          28. Thank you. It’s good to know that I am not the only “voice crying in the wilderness.” It does indeed appear that some of the moderators have gotten “out of hand” and perhaps have even crossed the line into “personal attacks.”

            I continue to hope that this is an appearance only. I continue to hope that the moderators are good people with good intentions but that the execution of those intentions has simply gone awry. Hopefully, in the next few weeks, they can regroup and decide on a better approach to the management of this blog.

          29. Markie,

            They are still slapping my hand by deleting my non-offensive comments. Three of them so far.

            A reprimand and now three deletions? It appears the deletions are the “answer” to our questions about why the moderator admonished me.

            Periodic house cleaning? Looks like I am the one being swept out with the trash.

            But one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Several people read those comments and upvoted them before they were deleted.

          30. At times like this, it might be helpful to remember Hanlon’s razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

          31. Oh, Hal, you naughty, naughty boy! I keep forgetting that not everybody has the same keen appreciation for the ridiculous that I have.

            That same thought occurred to me after I posted my comment. I re-read everything, and I thought to myself, “They totally read everything literally! That’s why they deleted it!”

            Well, maybe I am not the object of persecution after all. Maybe I am the amazing alien dazzling and dumfounding the humorless and the literal. Maybe I am the swarm of gnats aggravating the blind and one of their swats accidentally hit me.

            Now I am laughing myself sick, and it’s all your fault! What have you done?

          32. TODAY’S TSA would do no better. They can’t ramp up to the scale you imagine. Say there had not yet been a 9/11 and TSA was put in place because there was some credible warning and we moved this direction first. They STILL couldn’t prevent 9/11 today.

          33. “They still couldn’t prevent 9/11 today.”

            And that’s more true than ever since DHS is teaching screeners to “save themselves.” These incompetent, low level clerks are NOT going to put themselves on the line for us. In case of any attack, they won’t be “ramping up” security. They will be the first ones stampeding out the door.

          34. Yes, but it’s the government agencies that need to improve–and they can do it without turning us all into terrorists until proven otherwise. Remember, the Xmas bomber didn’t go unnoticed. Our government was informed about him, and yet again, he was still able to board a plane to the U.S. Had we heeded the warnings that time we wouldn’t be looking at the invasive procedures now in place.

            It was the 2009 underwear bomber that started the scanners in all airports as primary instead of secondary screening.

            So in other words, had the warnings been heeded we would have, indeed, been able to respond properly to it. We did nothing. But as you can read in news online, the government has been able to thwart these actions–even following them to the airports to arrest them. I believe they would have been able to do it then, too, had they been performing as they’re supposed to.

          35. If cockpit doors had been locked and hardened, and passengers and crew assumed any hijacking attempt was an attempt to take over the plane and use it as a missile, the attacks of 9/11/01 would have never happened as they did.

            No new checkpoint procedures would have been needed to prevent it.

            Would the 19 hijackers instead have flown 19 separate planes and blown them all up in-flight? Who knows. But I don’t recall mass checkpoint hysteria after Pan Am 103.

          36. And of course, 19 suicide bombers could simultaneously attack the crowded checkpoints at 19 airports nationwide, killing thousands — an attack which nothing the TSA does would deter — and it’s reasonable to conclude that such an attack would equally end up shutting down all aviation, as happened 12 years ago.

          37. Had Bush heeded the warnings and intel he received concerning the men taking flight lessons, etc. maybe they would have captured the operatives before they ever got to the airport. Ditto with the underwear bomber–as his father even attempted to alert us that his son was going to do something. But as usual our government did nothing, then installed scanners that have been proven ineffective in detecting what the underwear bomber used, on all of is. We have all become guilty until proven innocent, and that has to stop. Those who would give up a little freedom for the promise of security deserve neither freedom or security.

          38. That’s a daydream, not a “gold standard” airport security system when you have to rely on aboard the aircraft luck or gimmicks to call your system secure !
            Although I wish that traveling in the US would be less “annoying” (and that’s to put it mildly), I would not wish for any system to need to rely on cockpit doors (however foolproof they may be) and passengers / crew !!!
            Not my field, so I don’t know what would be efficient, but your proposal and the fact that people like it scares me !!!

          39. How about when you’re walking down the street? Or in a theater? Or at a restaurant? Or at work? Do you insist that everyone around you be screened for any blades that could be used against you?

          40. Not at all ! And I don’t believe that my (or anyone else) security was the subject of this thread, but that it rather was aircraft security.
            Heck, I don’t even know if a system is necessary (it is a matter of wether or not you choose to accept the risk and are able to afford the cost should the thing you wish to prevent happens) !
            The only thing I was saying in my answer was that a system that relies on locked doors and on-board people is probably not a very reliable security system. In about 10 years, most people flying will have never known 9/11 or will have simply forgotten about it, and their threat awareness will probably be close to zero.

            Therefore, I maintain that I am scared by your proposal (although not for myself when flying : i was flying before 9/11 and am still there to talk about it, so …)

          41. >>The only thing I was saying in my answer was that a system that relies on locked doors and on-board people is probably not a very reliable security system.

            Well, since 9/11, indeed on 9/11, it was the only system that actually has worked. I guess that’s better than nothing, right?

    1. That’s because the ‘hardware’ budget goes to private sector donors who make a killing off the taxpayer. If you want ‘professional agents,’ you’re going to have to pay FAR more than the current average of $17.00/hour. You want smart, quick-thinking, logical and well-trained? That’s a $75,000 – $125,000/year job.

  3. Chris — I was recently discussing airport security with my daughter as we bemoaned the stupidity of the TSA. I said there are a handful of advocates who are trying to do something about this “security theater” and you were one of them. Keep up the good work. We need you to continue representing us.

  4. “Fix the screening process.” I have written publicly for years that I agree with this statement. The screening could be improved but yet again this is short on details. I really wish there was a technology that could keep all of the threats that the TSA has been tasked with off airplanes but it does not exist in the numbers required for a large transportation system like the US. If any thing, the news of the last week shows that returning to magnetometers only isn’t a viable solution (and anyone that doesn’t think that story is a plant, I have bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to talk about selling to you). Israeli style security is a non-starter in the US for multiple reasons (first and foremost is expense and then you can move on to profiling, which it relies heavily upon, isn’t politically viable in the US). The number of dogs required to man a single check point at a major airport exceeds the capabilities of Lackland AFB (much less the number required to staff every checkpoint in the entire US) and we haven’t talked about what the rest of the US government does then since the same kennel produces all of the dogs for the entire government or staffing up all .

    Does the TSA need some customer service training… yep but so does just about every other US Government agency that interacts with the public. Does the TSA need to do a better job as screening applicants and employees, yes… but welcome to the world that our political leaders decided to put us in…

    So I’d welcome any one that can produce a plan that doesn’t ignore threats, is politically viable, is technologically feasible and works within the same constraints the TSA has…

    The problem is I have yet to see anyone produce one.

    1. John, what is wrong with metal detectors and bag x-rays as primary screening? The last time a plane leaving a US airport was bombed was in 1962, and metal detectors and bag x-rays were standard from the late ’70s through 2009 or so. So I’d say they have a pretty darn good track record.

      1. Ok… but multiple airplanes from other locations have had bombs brought on board or plans to do the same have been disrupted. Until 9/11 no one had ever used an aircraft as a weapon either. Does that mean the rest of the world should go back to the pre-9/11 protocol of turning over an airplane to a hijacker? The US Government spent BILLIONS to compensate the families of 9/11 victims because it hadn’t anticipated a threat that lawyers argued was likely. Do you really think ignoring a known and attempted threat is politically viable? Would you want to be that elected official?

        1. >> Until 9/11 no one had ever used an aircraft
          >> as a weapon either.

          And with locked and hardened cockpit doors and a new mentality of crew and passengers, no one will ever do so again. It didn’t take countless billions of dollars to close that security hole.

          Terrorists have also bombed restaurants, schools, theaters, hotels and countless other places where people congregate. Heck, even the baggage claim area (Moscow) and the terminal ticketing area (LaGuardia 1975) have been bombed.

          Compared to the number of passengers who fly worldwide each year, the number of such passengers who have died in attacks is about as close to zero as you can get.

          1. Yes but under the argument to put forward above … No one has ever done it here so we can ignore it… the rest of the world shouldn’t have changed their mentality or hardened their cockpit doors since it has only ever happened in the US. The fact is that they did. They learned from our security failure to make their system more secure. Why shouldn’t we do the same thing?

            And the number of people that have died is not zero… The odds of dying from an attack is about zero (I’d agree there). However, 9/11 showed us that it is not politically viable for an elected official to ignore threats. Otherwise, there’s no 9/11 compensation fund and victims get nothing. Many forget that the hijackers had done nothing wrong until the point they stood up. The weapons they used were allowed on aircraft and the crews followed the security protocols in place at the time that it occurred. Therefore, there should have been 0 negligence on any ones part and 0 compensation. We all know that that isn’t what occurred.

          2. Please show how airport security on 9/11/2001 failed. The “terrorists” were cleared and allowed on to the concourse because they broke no established laws,rules, procedures. Federal law enforcement and the US intelligence community failed. You are fear mongering by using those who died as a reason to push a statist agenda not inline with the Constitution of the USA.

        2. The threat was anticipated and then ignored. “Nobody could have imagined 9/11” was the excuse.

          Except, you know, for that episode of The Lone Gunmen which aired not long before 9/11 and featured the plot of a plane being hijacked (albeit remotely) and being flown into the Twin Towers, which shows that government lacks imagination.

          We also knew that the Taliban was planning something, and, yeah, we ignored all the warning signs. It didn’t exactly harm that particular administration in the aftermath, either.

          Not to mention, secured cockpit doors were suggested in the 70’s, but the airlines whined that it would be too costly, so the government buckled.

          Imagine: 9/11 could have been prevented 25 years earlier, and it wouldn’t have involved us taking off our shoes or being groped or irradiated to get on a plane!

          1. @ef3e8d75651a7b6dcaf5025a7487558a:disqus Sorry I’m lost in your argument… Should we attempt to anticipate and defend against threats or not? The first part of your reply seems to say yes but the rest of it then faults the TSA of doing just that.

            I would argue that no politician now wants to be the guy that everyone points to after he insisted that the government decrease security and someone used that for an attack. That is the unfortunate reality of the situation. Just like no politician wants to be “soft” on crime. Being soft on security, doesn’t get you re-elected and lets face it that’s the only thing they care about.

          2. TSA has NOTHING to do with anticipating or defending against threats, or they wouldn’t spend so much time patting themselves on the back for every fork they’ve taken away from people over the years.

            They spend so much time stealing peoples’ money and iPads, and calling the police for people carrying pot, that they miss thousands of guns and knives (neither of which will now bring down a plane). They can’t even catch the fake bombs that are sent through the system to test how well the whole cluster is working.

            They are a reactionary, make-people-feel-like-we’re-doing-something outfit who can’t do the simplest of tasks correctly and have to hire by advertising on pizza boxes.

          3. Problem is they are searching people with no probable cause. Flying is not a probable cause to search someone for suspicion of any criminal wrong doing. If you must try to do something for security measures train and staff “sky marshals who are actually empowered to restrain unruly passengers. Have them assigned to all flights like stewards and stewardesses. Keep the reinforced and locked cockpit doors. Then roll pack screening to pre-911 levels and stop most of the restrictions that seem to make little sense.
            Start training the sky marshals now and let the Airlines be responsible for their marshals with a minimum required training. Have Federal inspectors and state inspectors come in randomly to check on training required. and to be even more useful have them trained in first aid and cpr. The number of marshall per plane likely should be a minimum of 2 and then be related to passenger capacity of the plane.

        3. >>Ok… but multiple airplanes from other locations have had bombs brought on board or plans to do the same have been disrupted.

          Except that imaging technology here doesn’t stop that there. And I would argue it isn’t very effective at stopping it here, and it’s been proven a 100% failure at stopping things like guns, which is far more cost effective and overall effectively done with WTMD.

          Regardless, what TSA is doing TODAY – electronic strip search and/or sexual assault pat down, is the wrong way to look for what they are looking for. If we insist that we must screen travelers at the airport, which is not the most effective way to do it, then fine. TSA claims that explosives are the greatest threat, then screen for explosives. Imaging is more likely than not to miss explosives.

          There is a technology that exists today that has been shown to be very effective at finding explosives. The only problem is, in its hubris, TSA determined that maintaining the equipment so that it would actually work was not its problem. And so what do you think they’re doing with imaging equipment, which is much more prone to break down? My bet is that they aren’t maintaining it, and therefore, it also will soon not be working.

          1. TSAisTerrorism “it’s been proven a 100% failure at stopping things like guns”

            You mean like last week when the TSA found an ankle holster using AIT aka a scanner?

            Also, the “puffer” machines, if that’s what you were alluding to, were used at a number of airports around me. They were broken more than they worked, were slow even when they did work and had a high false positive rate (according to local newspapers… Better not walk anywhere near where someone was spreading fertilizer).

            AIT on the other hand … Is much faster than the puffers, actually work most of the time and have a low false positive rate (although they may hit on just about any object like the business card I left in my pocket two trips ago). EDIT: Not that they are perfect either. Just better than the current alternatives.

          2. “You mean like last week when the TSA found an ankle holster using AIT aka a scanner?”

            Something that a simple metal detector would have found.

          3. Yes, you are exactly correct… AIT can do the same work as magnetometers (which @TSAisTerrorism:disqus was arguing they couldn’t) but this week’s story also shows that AITs can find things that magnetometers can’t.

          4. I haven’t flown for several years so haven’t seen a screening area for sometime. Did this person go through a metal detector first? If so, sounds like it is way out of adjustment of it missed that.

            While you claim an AIT can do the same work, went pay the much higher price for one? Has one of these scanners ever found something the metal detector wouldn’t have and the object was truly a real threat to the aircraft?

          5. EdB Its one or the other… Basically, they replaced the metal detector in the line with a scanner. My point was that AITs can find non-metallic objects that are threats where magnetometers can only find metal items that respond to magnets. Of course your last question just begs the point, have they not found them because they haven’t been probed because they are that good or because they aren’t capable of finding them. Depending on your view on the subject will depend on you answer. You and I will probably be different.

          6. One or the other? So they took an inexpensive, proven technology and replaced it with a more expensive and questionable one? I guess I just don’t understand why they don’t make everyone go through the metal detector to start with and then proceed with the scanner.

          7. They took an inexpensive technology that can only find a limited number of threats and replaced it with a technology that can find multiple threats beyond a metal detector. While the security folks would tell you that they would love the additional step, I don’t think the politicians could sell it since the AITs are supposed to detect metallic threats too.

          8. So they replaced a proven technology, with limits, and replaced it with an unproven one that has been demonstrated to also have limitations. And they won’t add back the one layer because of political reasons, not security ones. Okay. I think I got it now.

          9. >>replaced it with a technology that can find multiple threats

            Not to be a school marm, but the word you are looking for is “may”. These junkatrons most certainly MAY find a wide variety of non-metallic threats. It MAY happen.

            But they also DON’T find a lot of other things. And they also DO ping on completely harmless things like pocket lint, gum wrappers, and private scars. That’s unacceptable on its face.

          10. I said no such thing.

            What I said was that WTMD are far more cost effective and effective at finding them. I most certainly did NOT say that an electronic strip search would NEVER find a gun.

            I happen to be a subject matter expert on human body imaging. What I know, as a subject matter expert, is that imaging is not the best technology to “see” explosives on the human body.

            The puffers are much more effective at such a thing. TSA is apparently too stupid to figure out how to use them effectively.

            Ergo, I also don’t find them smart enough to figure out how to use imaging technology, either.

          11. Plus, you know, it doesn’t matter how effective the machines are when the operators are too ignorant and lazy to use and interpret the results properly. The best technology in the world is only as good as the human beings making use of them.

            I’m not placing much confidence on a team of people recruited from pizza boxes who are not required to possess even a GED to be able to make effective use of sophisticated technology.

          12. @TSAisTerrorism:disqus That would be a 100% failure on that one test. The AITs don’t fail 100% of the time and, therefore, don’t have a 100% failure rate. They caught at least 1 person.

          13. >>They caught at least 1 person.

            One apparently stupid person. Good on them.

            There are still 1,000 ways to blow up a plane WITH the TSA’s current screening program. AIT or no AIT.

          14. Please provide evidence that AIT is safe. More short sighted, and delusional TSA apologist nonsense. I’ll make this short. I would rather have a terrorist attack then give up my rights which I interpret literally guaranteed to me by the United States Constitution and my creator. Disband TSA and roll back airport security to 9/10/2001

        4. “Ok… but multiple airplanes from other locations have had bombs brought
          on board or plans to do the same have been disrupted. Until 9/11 no one
          had ever used an aircraft as a weapon either. Does that mean the rest
          of the world should go back to the pre-9/11 protocol of turning over an
          airplane to a hijacker?”. Nothing here but fear mongering. Move along and see the post below me. And you’re a moderator here? I think you need to read the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution. With Liberty comes risk. An individuals Liberty does not take a back seat to someones desire for safety. If you don’t like security that does not infringe on human and Constitutional rights then perhaps you should not fly. John, to be blunt your feelings on the situation though respected and I defend your right to say them are so heinously incompatible with the US Constitution that I don’t see how I can take anymore of your ideas seriously on how you think a problem which never was (pre 9/11 airport security) until you bring those ideas some how into compatibility with the Bill of Rights. Mainly the fourth and fifth amendments.

      1. @d5170757f78f53cbda57a0323c0731e1:disqus Someone leaked to the press that TSA Inspectors were able to smuggle inert bombs through a checkpoint by going to a metal detector line. Like I said,it was an obvious plant.

        1. Incorrect.

          They smuggled bombs through a pat down, which is deemed to be “equivalent” to AIT. Neither of which, apparently, is very good at finding these bombs.

        2. It was one device that made it through the WTMD – allegedly. However, the reports say this person went through the B1 checkpoint. That checkpoint is MMW all the time, except if you have young children with you. Then you get to go through the WTMD. So unless the Red Team member had a young child with him/her, it’s probably >95% likely that he actually went through MMW, which missed the “device.”

          The other person who got caught at that checkpoint had a toy in her carry-on that had wires sticking out of it.

          There was ONE alleged bomb that got through the checkpoint. If you have information otherwise, please share it with us.

          1. The article I read said he went through the WTMD, and THEN received a random pat down that missed his panty bomb. The pat downs, therefore, are ineffective and should be stopped.

          2. Yes, the article I read also said WTMD. However, I am taking that with a grain of salt because of the prevalence of the use of WBI at the B1 checkpoint at EWR. It would be very unusual for the average traveler to go through WTMD at that checkpoint.

            If the Red Team member did go through WTMD and had a pat down, then the whole thing smells of a setup wherein more than one person at the checkpoint knew they were being tested.

            Were other passengers allowed through WTMD at the same time?

            Why was he chosen for a pat down?

            Too many coincidences for this to have been an “unbiased” test.

    2. “Those who would give up essential liberty to obtain a little security deserve neither”- Benjamin Franklin. Airport security either adheres strictly and literally to the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution or it is illegal.

  5. In regards to “Retrain the Workforce”, there is a better solution: Pay higher salaries in order to attract professionals (i.e. military, police, security, etc.) with the skills set (i.e. security, customer service, professional, etc.) for the position. In the past few days, I saw an interview on a cable news show where the interviewee (I think that the person was a former congressman or a former DOT official) stated that the problem is that the TSA needs to hire higher quality people which will require them to pay a higher salaries to attract those individuals.

    I am sure that there are professionals and individuals with the proper skills set in the TSA (I haven’t met them yet in all of my years of traveling) but most of them do not. Some of the TSA agents are rejects from the police, FBI, military, etc. Some of the TSA agents took the position because they needed a job. Based upon my experiences in the corporate world for the past 20 years, it is difficult to train or retrain someone if they don’t have the skills, education, experience, etc.
    If we want to have a top notch airport security than we need to hire the best.

    1. This is NOT a law enforcement job. Why do they need to be paid the same salary as a law enforcer? You can pay them more and still the JOB itself (what they are asked to do) can be asinine. In my opinion, the payscale is not the problem. I don’t think any country in the world will pay airport security screeners the same pay they give their cops.

      1. The payscale is the problem. At $ 12 to $ 17 per hour, you are “generally” getting people with little or no skills. Based upon my experiences, it is difficult to train or retrain someone that falls into this category…there are exceptions such as a new graduate or someone who was downsized but overall it is hard to train.
        In my encounters with TSA agents, most if not all lacked customer service. For example, when my son was younger and we carried his bottles and etc., I ran into TSA agents that didn’t know the rules. When they tried to confiscate his food, I showed them the printout from the TSA website stating that we could carry that food item, etc. Not once, did one of them said “I was wrong…I am sorry” etc.
        For two years, I worked at a large company as a Senior Executive where we had a division where most of the people was making $ 12 to $ 15 per hour. It was difficult to manage these individuals. A few of them moved up but most did not…most caused problems every day…you won’t believe the problems that they caused at work or brought to work. I am glad that I left that company.

        1. I have to disagree with you. I worked in FedEx for many years. While I do not know their current scale, I found this on the internet.

          It says that typical customer facing employees make about $13-17 a hour. Why don’t FedEx couriers scream at me? Why do I hear TSA Agents screaming? It’s the management and training primarily.

          You can double the pay of the current TSA people and you still will faced with the same problems. Where can you get decent workers who are willing to feel your junk? The work is disgusting that’s why.

        2. It is not the pay scale that is the problem: it is the job requirements. If you want people with skills you should require those skills. Else you will still get people with little or no skills applying for the higher paying jobs.

    2. Actually screening their employees better would help as well. Having people in positions where they will be placing their hands on people who are sex offenders is not a good idea. Nor is having people with records of theft being put in positions of inspecting baggage. (Note: While I have seen articles related to someone who was on record as being a paedophile in the TSA I don’t recall any atm who were on record for being thieves.)
      I do know that people who have narcotics records are generally barred from professions that require them to work with drugs and people who have records for abuse cannot work as nurse aides in many places. Frequently people with criminal records are excluded from positions of trust depending on what their record is based on.
      There has been obvious cases where the TSA has stated itself that the employees need more training. More pay does not automatically equate to better training or people it just means that it is possibly a more desirable job. It may or may not attract the type of people you believe should be in that position. Requiring a certain level of training or experience however might do so.

      1. Well, we are already spending $17,500 per screener for their training. With TSA’s $8 billion per year budget, I don’t know how much more we can do.

        Instead of more training, we should fire all the criminals, the ignorant/uneducated/illiterate individuals, and anti-social misfits. That would be a huge improvement.

        Adding more training won’t really help much. Stupid and immoral people can take all the classes in the world and they will still be stupid and immoral.

  6. “secretly installing poorly tested body scanners in America’s airports”?? Secretly? Really? I picture workmen installing a seven foot tall machine in the middle of an airport checkpoint and then saying: “don’t tell anyone”. Much hyperbole here?

  7. The problem with the TSA is that it’s a Government agency. Abolish the TSA! Give airline security back to private security firms hired by the airlines or airport. Problem solved AND I saved the taxpayers $8.1 billion!

  8. I went through once way back when and it was such a different experience from what it was flying before TSA that I hope I never have to fly again!!!!!

  9. You are talking uo one hell of a great game! How can we get it fixed? I am always the victim at TSA check points as my wife had cancer and I will not go near any type of radiation machines. The pat downs are from medium to severe and I don’t like it! How do I help?

  10. An exceptionally well-written article from first word to last. This sums up exactly how I feel about TSA. Yes, I want airport security — who doesn’t? — but the TSA is doing it wrong.

    Thanks for this outstanding dose of rationality.

    1. I don’t know about exceptional, but at least it’s not one of those usual post / collection of TSA’s flaws (which were “amusing” a while ago but tend to be repetitive).
      And it is somehow balanced ! Did Chris really write it himself ???

      However, where I disagree is on the sensationalism of the poll : a simple yes or no would have been easier to answer :
      Of course, airport security can be improved (what can’t ?), but what does that has to do with resting the watchdogs or not !!!
      Not agreeing with neither entire proposition, I decided to skip the poll !!!

  11. Couldn’t answer the survey as is. Yes, I think the TSA can do better, much better, but I also think you watchdogs should give it a rest . . . or at least stop screaming the same old complaints at the top of your literary lungs. Many of the anti-TSA brigade who post regularly here are so shrill and contentious that those of us who haven’t experienced problems with TSA have begun to tune them out, especially when they automatically attack anyone who doesn’t agree with them 100 percent as a “TSA shill” or one of the “sheeple.” This IS America, after all, and we have the right to agree to disagree. Your constant vitriol drowns your valid points and does your cause a disservice.

    1. You’re sounding a bit “shrill and contentious” yourself there, Paulette. Perhaps it’s time to “stop screaming the same old complaints at the top of your literary lungs.”

      You’ve posted numerous complaints in the past that anti-TSA bloggers (and even Chris himself) should be silenced on this subject. You must realize that “this IS America, after all, and we have the right to agree to disagree.”

      “Your constant vitriol” vilifying those who disagree with you and demanding that they be silenced “drowns your valid points and does your cause a disservice.”

    2. Forget it, unfortunately it seems that most of these folks aren’t interested the slightest in hearing from anyone who doesn’t go think the TSA is evil incarnate.

      I’m moving on as there is no point to further discourse on the subject.

    3. I have to ask, if there’s something that you believe – strongly – should be changed and you voice your opinion on that matter numerous times, but it doesn’t change, do you just quit?

      1. Markie,

        I have just noticed that you argue against injustice and intolerance regardless of which side of the TSA debate the other bloggers take. I really admire that trait.

        At this point, I have no idea what your stance is with TSA, but what I do know about you is that you do not like intolerance and injustice. I’m totally with you there. Those are two things I do not like either.

        You have my respect, lady!

        PS: I also do not like hypocrisy. How does hypocrisy affect your aggravation-o-meter? It makes mine go BOINGGGG!

  12. But what does it mean to be the Gold Standard (of something)?

    Prior to 1972 before Nixon unilaterally took the U.S. Dollar off the gold standard, that term meant that your money was good as gold. Henceafter, most currencies were based on nothing but pure fiat.

    I wonder what the TSA is basing their claim on. If they were truly a Gold Standard, then they would be the envy of all other countries airport security. However, I do not see a rush of foreign countries trying to copy the TSA. That makes me think that the TSA is not the gold standard of aviation security.

    1. But it IS the gold standard of a repressive regime. Bravo, TSA! Your achievements are the envy of dictators everywhere.

      1. Well, … without wishing to sound crude, they would need to make a few travelers disappear from earth’s surface before they are the envy of dictators !!!… And they seem to only manage to make personal belongings disappear from their owners bags !…

        1. Well, what do you know? I guess TSA is not the gold standard after all. Oh well, I tried to find something they are good at.

  13. Your TSA agents act more like indifferent thugs. They definitly need more & better training in how to treat the travelling public.
    Add to that the fact they don’t bother properly screening carryons, they are more interested in talking to their comrades, that in many instances they know not what just went through on the belt. Add theft to the mix, & yes they need training.
    PLEASE don’t come upto Canada & ask our illustrious National force for help – they are far worse! The RCMP should be replaced

  14. All these words are trying to fall out of my
    mouth and have met a log jam…I’m speechless. I can’t stand reading this
    stuff. I know I would be arrested if I try to fly again.

    1. Hi Marilyn,
      Yeah, it kinda stinks, but it’s not just you. That’s an arbitrary Disqus rule which applies to everybody, even us moderators. 🙁

  15. Stick with it my friend, I have al but given up Air Travel, but I hold out hope that some day it will make sense and I can enjoy a flight again.

  16. Anyone who has flown outside the United States likely knows how unnecessarily annoying the TSA is. There are some agents which are good, but they definitely need to cull a lot of them. It is true, they visit amongst themselves, don’t pay attention, pay attention to the wrong things, go through rote procedures without thinking, and steal straps off bags. Yet they are a disturbingly good example of what a cross section of America is in many cases, sadly.

  17. Why all the discussion about moderation? We are, for the most part, all adults and can pick and choose what we want to read and what we don’t want to read.

    If you don’t like what one person writes, don’t read it. If you do choose to read, then don’t get your panties in a knot. It’s really very simple.

    Why does one want to be a moderator? Is it a control thing?

    1. Susan, I totally agree with you. I think all this micromanaging and worrying about “attacks” is absolute folly. I don’t think anyone should be reprimanded for these “attacks.” Most of them are nonexistent anyway, and most of the rest of them are not worth getting worked up about.

      However, I strongly object to these reprimands being used against one side and not the other. Whatever rules or restrictions are used against one must be applied evenly to all. What is fair for the goose is fair for the gander. Using restrictions against one side and not imposing the same restrictions on the other side smacks of oppression. It’s dishonest and just plain unfair.

      That’s why I’ve been engaged in all my nonsense the past two days…to point out how one-sided and unfair these reprimands have been over the past three weeks.

      I have no doubt that I will soon be banned from this site because of my determination to expose the uneven oppression that these reprimands have imposed on one side in this debate. That is the ultimate fate of whistleblowers, isn’t it? To be silenced. Then the offenders can be on their merry way doing all the bad things they were doing before the whistleblower exposed them.

      Oh well, I hope at least I will have provided some entertainment along the way and rattle a few cages. We’ll have to see how it turns out.

      1. I’ve been following this thread closely but haven’t had a chance to respond yet. I’m sorry that some commenters feel the moderation team has gone too far or is unfair in its enforcement actions.

        I think there’s been some confusion about what constitutes a personal attack and the best way to warn a commenter when they’ve crossed a line.

        I’m working closely with the moderators to better define what is, and isn’t acceptable, in the comments. We hope to post something soon that will clarify.

        Please know that the entire moderation team is just trying to keep the comments civil and welcoming to all points of view. We want to be evenhanded and fair.

        If the team has overreached, it’s only because it wants to make this the best comment section it can be, not because it wants to block someone from expressing his or her point of view.

        1. Chris, I don’t know if you’ve kept up with the thread titled “Do we really need knives……” at TS/S. The OP of the thread is complaining about personal attacks made upon him by several posters, some of them the most civil contributors to the entire forum.

          I see one or two comments that might be considered as personal attacks but not from all of the many posters the OP is accusing.

          What one person might consider a devastating personal attack rolls right off the back of another person.

          While one moderator might consider a statement to be an attack, another moderator would not think it so.

          I am certain that you recall the brouhaha that erupted at TS/S a couple of years ago when moderators were deleting comments left and right. Heavy-handed moderation just about destroyed that forum and many posters left, never to return.

          It wasn’t personal attacks, snide comments or offensive remarks that drove most away. It was heavy-handed moderation.

          With all due respect, the same will happen here if you allow the moderation to get out of hand.

          1. I totally agree with everything you have said. I think all these reprimands and deletions and forbidding of certain words and banning bloggers from the site is non-productive and shortsighted. Three of my own comments have been deleted from this thread, and to quote another blogger, “I’ve gone back and read Daisymae’s comments so far and I can’t find one instance of her launching a personal attack.”

            All three of the deleted comments were jokes that did not attack or insult anybody. Two of the comments were jokes about me reprimanding myself and flagging myself for reprimand. Those two particular comments were deleted only because they highlighted the folly of a reprimand that I had received earlier from a moderator, a reprimand that was criticized by other bloggers as baseless. How could deleting those two comments have been anything but petty and personal? How do the moderators think Chris is going to retain supporters and creative passionate bloggers when they are censored in this petty way?

            You also mentioned bloggers on TS/S (what is that, by the way?) who complain about “attacks” that are basically nonexistent.

            Well, I have noticed bloggers on this site who complain about all the “attacks” coming from only the other side and none coming from his/her own side….all while in the midst of launching his/her own “attack.” I consider that a dishonest attempt to derail debate of this compelling and vital topic.

            I hope that Chris and the moderators will not fall into the trap of allowing a small minority to hijack this blog. This blog is performing an important, vital service. The votes on the polls each Wednesday show overwhelming support for what Chris is trying to do here. It would be a shame to let the minority take that all away.

      1. I don’t live in the USA but travel to the USA rather often. Never once have I experienced anything but polite professional conduct from the TSA. They have a job to do and as I say not once have I ever experienced anything I would question. I find them very professional!

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