If you love the TSA, read this story

It happened again.

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At a time when the federal agency assigned to protect America’s transportation systems can least afford it, there was another dust-up involving a young passenger — this time to Lucy Forck, a three-year-old with spina bifida flying to Disney World with her family.

When the little girl in a wheelchair is pulled over for a pat-down, her mother starts taping the procedure on her phone, which is permitted.

“It’s illegal to do that,” an agent says off camera, as Lucy sobs.

“I don’t wanna go to Disneyworld,” the girl cries.

After a 20-minute delay, the family was allowed to board their flight. The TSA eventually issued a tepid apology. The agency watchdog site TSA News Blog documented the controversy and added its two cents.

“The tactics here are insensitive and unkind on their face, as well as pointless,” wrote blogger Deborah Newell Tornello. “Not only is this little girl so obviously terrified to the point of crying out loud, and desperately upset that her comfort toy — her stuffed animal — is being taken away, she is distraught that her parents’ attempts to protect her are being summarily ignored.”

And that’s where it would have probably ended. Except that another site, which is probably best described as “pro” TSA, caught wind of the post and the predictable outrage being generated in the comments.

And it had a very different perspective.

“If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a million times,” the blogger wrote on a Boston-area sports site. “There is no bigger supporter of TSA on the planet than me. I’m team TSA loud and proud. I pretty much side with them 1,000 percent of the time in situations like these. And guess what? I’m siding with them again here.”

The Boston sports fans collided with the civil liberties activists on TSA News, creating a digital mushroom cloud. Eventually, the comment thread had to be shut down.

Where did these apologists come from?

It would be tempting to dismiss these TSA defenders as nothing more than social media plants paid by the Department of Homeland Security to rally support for a demoralized TSA. But that explanation would be too simplistic.

While there’s plenty of evidence that the American federal government is actively engaged in blogging and other forms of social media, it’s also an undeniable fact that some air travelers stand behind anything the TSA does — no matter how ill-advised or constitutionally problematic.

One of those voices belongs to travel guidebook personality Arthur Frommer, who comes to the TSA’s defense at regular intervals.

“We should be grateful to have a serious, dedicated TSA working hard to prevent terrorists from taking weapons onto a passenger airplane and seizing control of it,” he wrote on his blog recently. Frommer has also dismissed the TSA’s critics as “alarmist” and “sensation-seeking.”

Is there common ground?

Are these TSA defenders right? Are the agency’s critics just a small group of activists hell bent on letting the terrorists incinerate another plane over America’s skies?

I don’t believe so. Based on the support and readership of my TSA coverage, and the many other critical voices that cast doubt on the agency’s current procedures, I’m fairly certain that the “Team TSA” passengers are a misunderstood minority.

What’s more, I think they can be persuaded to come over to the right side — to “Team Passenger” (which, parenthetically, the TSA should be on, too). Their arguments come unraveled after just a few short minutes of dialogue.

Read the comments on the TSA News story for an example. The agency’s defenders insist that if we don’t remain vigilant, we will have another 9/11 on our hands, which is a fair point. But then they suggest that bending the Constitution and the law in order to achieve security is justified, and that the proof this questionable strategy has worked is 11 years without another terrorist bombing.

The TSA critics reply with cold logic. If you start reinterpreting the Constitution and passing laws that infringe on our basic rights as Americans, it’s a slippery slope, they say. And besides, the absence of another 9/11-style attack doesn’t necessarily mean that the present measures have been effective; it’s possible that the terrorists are just looking elsewhere to inflict damage.

The response? Personal attacks, which is what TSA apologists like to use as a weapon of last resort. They call the activists “cowards” and paint them with a broad brush of unpatriotism, or worse. That’s because they’ve effectively lost the debate.

Maybe you shouldn’t make generalizations about TSA supporters based on the rants of a Boston sports blog, but you certainly can get a feel for where they’re coming from. They just don’t understand how anyone could question an agency that’s ostensibly there for our own protection.

And yet, there’s also common ground. When we fly, both the activist and apologist are on the same plane. But one group feels that as long as the flight lands safely, every step that was taken by the TSA is justified. The other believes how we arrive safely does matter.

And patting down three-year-olds in a wheelchair is not acceptable, say critics.

It’s hard to argue against that.

Should the TSA pat down kids in a wheelchair?

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158 thoughts on “If you love the TSA, read this story

  1. TSA as a whole, is not bad. But as with every large group of people, you are always going to have the occasional bad apple.
    How many hundreds of thousands of people go through TSA check points every day? How many of these incidents do we have? While yes, each and every one of these incidents is awful, but they are the exception to the rule.
    I personally believe that the penalties against TSA agents that do these things should be extreme. TSA Agents are paid to do a job. They are paid to know their own procedures and follow them. If they can not do that, not only should they lose their job, they should also face criminal charges for their offense. Like we hold our Police Officers and Military to a higher standard, we should also hold the TSA Agents, who are supposedly in charge of keeping our planes safe, to a higher standard as well.
    “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”. Well we’ve given the TSA Agents a lot of power, we need to hold them accountable for their actions. I can tell you that if they had the threat of criminal prosecution against them, these incidents would become extremely rare. The power trip that many of these agents feel would drop considerably because they would always be thinking about procedures and ensuring that they are following them, which they should be doing.

    1. I’ve never had a problem of any kind with TSA, and I’m definitely not a “sheeple.” Maybe I’ve been fortunate, but maybe it’s because I don’t go in with an attitutude and then complain when I get called on it. I do agree, however, that terrifying this poor little girl was totally inexcusable.

          1. Grasp of the English language not so much for you?

            Hopefully SoBeSparky will be along shortly to give us all an English lesson!

          2. Well, if you *must* split hairs between saying something and heavily insinuating it…

            Hint to pauletteb: a lot of folks who’ve had run ins with TSA didn’t go in with an attitude, nor did they have anything to complain about until TSA got involved.

          3. 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.

          4. I feel badly for TSA supporters, so afraid of their own shadows they think electronic strip searches and genital fondling will stop the next big terrorist attack. How sad, really.

      1. It sounds like you are suggesting the three-year-old brought this on herself by going in with an attitude. Or perhaps her parents are to blame for the way she was treated. Can you clarify?

  2. It’s like the uneducated, ill-mannered woman who patted down my GF when we traveled with infant formula from our home airport (IAH). I attempted to video it because I wanted proof of how this person was talking to my GF, and this failed Wal-mart greeter started screaming at me.
    Gold teeth and all.

    How can you be a “professional” with gold teeth and barely able to enunciate basic words? The word is ASK not AXE.

    Not to mention…my sister teacher in SC. Imagine her surprise when a girl who was Special Ed for a reading deficiency and couldn’t pass the state basic skills exit exam in SIX YEARS was the one matching names to tickets. Apparently this girl had a brain injury and could barely read even the simplest words and had issues with short term recall.

    But, the TSA thinks she’s good enough to match your name to your ticket.

    ETA: Edited “idiot witch” to “uneducated, ill-mannered woman” because people are overly sensitive today.

    1. Since when are gold teeth and a dialect measures of a person’s professionalism? America fortunately is a blend of many cultures, appearances and dialects. To single one out in such a manner as unprofessional seems racist and hateful.

      1. Thanks for saying that so I didn’t have to. I wish Disqus had a block feature. That’s a pretty standard post as far as I can tell.

        1. Disqus does have a block feature, and your moderators hold the button. Please bring questionable posts to our attention by clicking on the black arrow to the right of any post in question.

      2. Uh…ever heard of a dress code? I know my company would not tolerate someone representing them while wearing a “grill.”

        I don’t understand why the TSA allows this.

        Also, I didn’t see where I mentioned the race of this individual. If you must know, she was WHITE.

        1. SoBeSparky likes to read a lot of things into posts that aren’t there. It’s good that you clarified it for him, though.

        2. HI Raven,

          I’m addressing my comments to you because I refuse to acknowledge Sparky (due to his past posts). I would like to say that I support your comments. Of course, you did not mention race. And of course, you did not criticize this screener’s dialect either.

          As a professional person with a strong regional dialect myself, I can say that ignorant, improper use of the English language is not synonymous with dialect. Many people with regional dialects (myself included) are intelligent, educated, and speak proper English.

          Ignorant, improper use of the English language (in a native English speaker) is a strong indicator of lack of education and training. That type of sloppiness usually carries over into other arenas. It does not present a professional appearance and does not inspire confidence in others.

          And speaking of race, I have known and met many professional people of many races. They all speak beautiful English. Even professional people who speak English as a second language strive to speak proper English. (And many of them speak better English than some natives.) I have never in my life heard a professional person say “axe” no matter what their race, region, or nationality.

          1. Agreed. I have a Texan accent. I am conscious that “Southern Accents” tend to make people think we are uneducated “down yonder.” Thus, when I talk as a professional, I make sure I don’t use words like “fixin’ to” or “ain’t gonna” because that makes ME look ignorant to others. Do I say those things over a couple of beers while watching football? Yeap, I sure reckon I do!

            So, to expect someone who wants me to view them as a professional to speak with a decent command of English grammar is not AXEING too much.

          2. I used to work with a bunch of women from Texas. I loved their accents. Never though they were uneducated, they were some of the smartest most professional people I have ever met. I miss hearing them saying, “That Needs Fixin'” And my favorite was how they pronounced “W”. However they also presented themselves in such professional manner, so their use of colloquialisms never came across as uneducated. Basically, they could form proper sentences, while many TSA employes I have encountered can not. I also used to work with a guy from Texas who has worked very hard to get rid of his accent, but every once in a while it slips out and we all have a good laugh.

          3. I get a lot of wonderful comments on my Southern accent. I am a former high school English teacher, a former court reporter, a former Shakespearean actress (did a lot of voice and speech work in order to do that), and now I am a public speaker. I presented myself in a professional manner and used good English in all of my professions.

            All across New Jersey, I get glowing praise on my skills as an orator and my “beautiful” Southern accent. All with nary an axe in sight.

        3. Say what you mean and mean and mean what you say. You did not say grill. You said gold teeth, That would be teeth made of gold, not a gold grill, a gold appliance or decoration.

          AXE instead of ask is a common dialect in the USA. Fact remains, one should still do not judge people based on a dialect and gold teeth.

          1. Here’s an story for you. My company held a big job fair a few weeks ago. We had a young lady show up with blue hair, piercings all in her face, and visible tattoos. She was also wearing jeans and t-shirt. Guess what? No one looked at her resume. It’s a fact of life pal–the image you wear is the image that is projected onto your company. If the TSA is cool with people wearing fake gold plated teeth, well, that just says something about their “office” climate.

            So there ya go.

            Also, “axe” is not a “dialect.” It is sloppy English, just like “ain’t.”

          2. Exactly! Sparky has accused you of racism. I wish Sparky would specify exactly which race he thinks has a dialect of its own that includes axe. As far as I am aware, no race has a dialect. A region may have a dialect; a race does not.

            We have many regional dialects in our country: Southern, Californian, New England, Brooklyn, and others. These are all regional dialects, not racial dialects.

            To assume that a race has a dialect is racist in and of itself. The NAACP and other civil rights organizations have fought that stereotype for decades.

            Now Sparky comes along saying that you are racist for discriminating against some unspecified race’s dialect. Who is the real racist here?

        1. Sorry, by “They All”, I was referring to people who say AXE instead of Ask. You know who says AXE and drives me nuts? Ray Romano! And I hear people of all races and colors say it all the time in NY now, which saddens me as a New Yorker.

        2. Hi Chris,

          May I ask what occurred in the thread to cause the concern? I am not asking to be a jerk. I truly do not know what was problematic to cause the moderators to follow the “thread with some concern.”

          Looking back over the thread, I can see that one person accused someone of racism without foundation and that other people pointed out the lack of racism in the original post. The person making the racism accusation appears to have dropped the matter, either realizing his error or deciding to be diplomatic.

          Is there something else that I missed? Again, I am not trying to be antagonistic. I truly want to know what the expectations are here. That way we can all try to abide by them.

          I have zero interest in getting into mudslinging arguments with people. That’s a fruitless waste of time and energy.

    2. Hi all,
      Today, your friendly neighborhood moderators got an eye-opening look at how bad a blog’s “Comments” can become without some kind of reasonable constraints. To see for yourself, please click the link to TSA News Blog in today’s story… nastiness, insults, the “f” word, even the “c” word. Your moderators don’t want that happening here, and we hope our readership doesn’t either. So, please, while a little snark is fine, we ask that everyone refrain from insults (idiot witch) and remarks which could be taken (rightly or wrongly) as racist.

      Also, any reader who sees a comment which he or she finds questionable is invited to bring it to to the attention of the moderation team by clicking on the little black arrow to the right of every comment. Thank you.

      1. Mr. Ritchie: I wrote and published the post–the one you are talking about–last week. (Chris referenced it today.) I would like to address your obvious misunderstanding about what happened. Somehow–as often happens with popular, well-read blogs like TSA News–my post entitled “TSA assaults and tramatizes three-year-old girl in a wheelchair” found its way into the reading material of a sports blog based in Boston.

        When we began to receive a number of comments that were not just profane but also argumentative and derailing, we took a look at the originating ISP and discovered the culprit: it was this sports blog, and they were mocking my post and exhorting their readers to head over to TSA News and join in the fun. In the comments that followed their post, the regulars, who were reporting back and congratulating each other for having used the foulest possible words, for causing arguments, and for derailing the original subject of our discussion. They all bragged and informed one another about the temporary names they’d assumed in order to deluge TSA News with their juvenile filth and “get us all upset”.

        As someone who has written for an online readership for many years, including a few political blogs, I am well familiar with the environment. Writers and commenters alike often argued passionately but, alas, certain commenters–known as “trolls” of various stripes–would jump in and do a number of things to derail the conversation (or argument, as it were): they would argue and re-argue the same point, just for the sake of arguing and seeing how much they could annoy people. They would feign outrage at someone’s tone, accuse him or her of being uncivil or rude–although it was plain that he wasn’t–in order to derail the conversation away from the topic at hand and get people arguing about what was and wasn’t civilized. And sometimes, they’d affect concern for a tangential issue and use that concern to, again, derail a conversation.

        Back to the comments at the above-described post: As soon as it became evident what was happening, I pointed it out to everyone by calling out the trolls for what they were, directly beneath each comment. That way, actual readers could ignore them. That usually works–once trolls find out that the writers of the blog are on to them, it isn’t “fun” for them any more. Sadly, these guys were probably too inebriated to notice that they’d been found out, and they continued with the deluge.

        However, the disgusting language they used was just that: words.

        Only words.

        And that’s why we left them up: we are a group devoted to upholding and defending civil liberties, including freedom of speech, and these were merely WORDS. Rude, crude, annoying, and laughably juvenile words, yes. But they did not rise to the level of yelling fire in a crowded theatre, nor were they inciting imminent, lawless action. Words.

        I wanted to clarify your comment, as it may well might give readers at this blog the impression that TSA News is a repository for foulmouthed malcontents. What a shame that would be, given the important work we do, which is to say, advocating for the inalienable rights of everyone–even those who continue to call us names, whether they’re offensive names or condescendingly dismissive ones. Because civil liberties–including the right to be free from unwarranted and unreasonable search and seizure–are the oxygen of a free and democratic society. No other amenities, including being made to feel safe and “secure” by dint of exorbitantly expensive, abusive, and intrusive theatrics, will be of much use to us if we cannot breathe.

        1. Hi Ms. Tornello,

          Thanks for writing. I’m sorry if there was any misunderstanding. Ironically enough, until this morning, I considered myself to be one of the more liberal members of our moderator team, always pushing my fellow moderators to exercise less control. Then, I visited TSA Blog.

          I was shocked. Although I respect TSA Blog’s right to print whatever it wishes, I don’t agree with it, at least for this blog. We try to maintain some semblance of civility here, but boy is it a running battle. It’s amazing how confrontational people can be from behind the anonymity of a keyboard.

          It sounds as if you have definitely “been there and done that”… argument for the sake of argument, feigned indignation, hijacking of a conversation onto some meaningless tangent. It never ends, but Chris has empowered us to try to deal with it, so try we do. Again, thanks for writing and sorry for any misunderstanding.

          1. Mr. Ritchie, again, it’s not a matter of us “printing whatever we wish.” Nor is it a matter of being liberal–our contributors’ politics are all over the spectrum, from conservative to libertarian to moderate to liberal to socialist.

            By “I don’t agree with it, at least for this blog”, I’m assuming you mean you don’t agree with the foulmouthed comments–neither do we–but nor do you believe in permitting them to stand, even if they don’t rise to the level of yelling *fire* in a crowded theater or inciting imminent lawless action.

            Well, I don’t happen to agree with this. To be sure, Elliot.org is a private blog, and not a government entity. This means that Chris–and his assistants–are certainly within their rights to print or not print–to delete–any comment or submission, as they see fit, and to warn the commenter or even altogether ban him or her from ever commenting at the blog in the future.

            As my kids say, “Good luck with that”. You may well find yourself doing little else but policing comments and trying to delete them. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find that productive or illuminating in any way. Quite the opposite, in fact.

            You see, free speech is not only messy, contentious, and sometimes insulting or profane (watch the goings on in British Parliament, on C-Span, if you want to see some seriously insulting and offensive language in action), it actually serves an important purpose: by its very existence–its unfettered, untrammeled existence–it hones the discussion and points the way toward the very best courses of action. In other words, when one counters offensive or ill-informed speech with more speech–as opposed to censoring it–an ever clearer picture emerges of the matter at hand, one that is that much more detailed for having been formed by the words and opinions of many. And thus is forged a strong, apposite proposal for resolving things.

      2. We’re supposed to refrain from comments that could be taken – wrongly – as racist? How in the heck are we supposed to judge that?

      3. I don’t mean to be disrespectful in any way, but is it really true that someone could be blacklisted for remarks that are “wrongly” taken as racist?

        I am all for blacklisting racist remarks and propaganda. Racism is a heinous and ugly thing. But blacklisting a person who is wrongly accused of anything seems ugly also.

        If a wrongful accusation of racism gets a person blacklisted, that means that anyone who disagrees with another person can make the accusation of racism without any foundation whatsoever and get the person he disagrees with kicked off of the blog. That is an incredible amount of power to give to a bully.

        An accusation of racism is a serious slur against a person’s character. Any person making that accusation without powerful evidence to back it up should face serious consequences. Nobody should be given that weapon to cudgel other people. Nobody should be rewarded for libeling another person’s character.

        I understand that this is Chris’ blog, and he makes the rules. Chris has a reputation for fairness and for standing up to bullies. I can’t believe that blacklisting someone for being wrongfully accused of racism or anything else would be Chris’ policy.

        1. Hi Daisiemae,

          Could someone be blacklisted for remarks which are wrongly taken as racist? In isolation, no, of course not, but as part of a pattern of nastiness, or snarkiness if you will, possibly. And if the someone in question refuses to desist from such remarks after repeated warnings, then probably. I visited TSA News Blog this morning and was horrified at the comments I found there. I respect TSA News Blog’s right to allow whatever they wish, but we’re committed to maintaining a less confrontational tone here.

          Is such moderation easy? Far from it, and we’re probably going to make our share of mistakes, but your words are well taken. I hope you’ll write again if you see us going off track. Thank you.

          1. Can you please give us an example of the comments you found “horrifying” at the TSA Blog? Methinks you are way too sensitive.

          2. No. If you can read those comments and still ask that question, nothing I say is going make any difference.

          3. I do now. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I got the name wrong. I meant to reference TSA News blog. Thank you for setting me straight. I went back and edited my post to reflect the correct name.

    3. No… people are not overly sensitive today. Your moderators are simply attempting to introduce an element of civility to this forum. You can work with us, or can keep up with the snark and find yourself blacklisted. We’ll miss you… but we’re serious about this.

  3. Sorry Chris but I disagree with “Based on the support and readership of my TSA coverage.” I would think that a smart person like you would understand that your TSA blogs have a different readership than the rest of your blog. For most, it an appointment blog either the day to stay away or the day to show up. You only have to look at the post from one of your readers that received 14 likes for telling you to end your weekly TSA rants with the appropriate additional people adding disgusting comments that lead little to the discussion and result in personal attacks (contrary to your statement on your blog its the Anti-TSA element reverting to personal attacks). A vocal minority does not equal a majority.

    1. STATISTICS (disclosure: I am a co-founder of FREEDOM TO TRAVEL USA): I did some statistics in 2010 on a New York Times Op-Ed by Maureen Dowd (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/20/opinion/20dowd.html , NY Times, April 19th, 2011) which had generated many comments. Out of all the comments on this article, 61 out of 377 were Pro-TSA, which makes 83% against the current TSA procedures.

      I would say somewhere around 25% of the people support the TSA scanners and patdowns, FYI.

      1. TestJeff Pierce All you proved is that the TSA opposition is vocal. Extrapolating national acceptance or disillusionment from the comments on a single article is false.

        I look at it in two ways … First, I’m not aware of a single unbiased survey that polls national acceptance. I am aware of a few surveys that were done but the questions were like Chris’s poll above. They suggest an answer and were commissioned to prove a point instead of being commissioned to find out what the national sentiment is (honestly as polar as the debate is, I’m not sure that a truly unbiased survey is possible). Second, if the national debate was as skewed as you suggest, it would have become an issue in the latest election cycle. Its just too easy a target for a non-incumbent to go after.

        I think this is the case of a large non-vocal majority but neither of us can be sure.

    2. Just a quick update… 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…

      1. Oh, dear…it really is time for another appointment with the opthamologist. You need a new prescription for glasses.

        Somehow you did not see all the attacks from bodega, sparky, davidyoung, and my goodness, how did you miss seeing all those attacks you made yourself? Perhaps if you look again you will see the one you made against me.

        In addition, it’s sad that you overlooked the granddaddy of all the attacks coming from the Team TSA side: Sparky’s baseless and irresponsible charge of racism. There was quite a lengthy discussion about that wild attack. If you were unable to see that, it’s definitely time for new glasses.

  4. There is nothing wrong whatsoever with a blog critical of the TSA. Elliott describes the TSA News Blog pretty well, calling it, “an agency watchdog site.” The incredible freedom of speech in the USA is a foundation of our country. Elliott contributes to that.

    But the listerners/readers of this free speech should exercise the responsibility to examine each and every source they rely upon. Much of the internet, and some TV networks, make little attempt at fairness and balance. To make matters worse, the very people who demonstrate the least fairness, balance and accuracy are many times those sources which brag they possess these values.

    The TSA News Blog, cited here as a source, should have the intellectual honesty to label itself appropriately.

    The TSA News Blog says: “We are dedicated to writing about the agency with fairness, balance and accuracy.” Merriam-Webster’s most appropriate definition for balance is: “equality between the totals of the two sides of an account.” Fairness is defined as, “marked by impartiality and honesty : free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism.” Little if anything at this TSA News Blog is exemplified by fairness and balance. When a blog sets itself up with a dishonest self-definition, then all that follows deserves much closer inspection, especially its third descriptor, “accuracy.”

    As for the incident itself, the entire procedure by TSA was flawed. Out of 1.8 million TSA passenger screenings per day, this one was unacceptable and taped. I am certain there were other unacceptable, and un-taped, screenings the same day. Whenever you are doing the same thing 1.8 million times with thousands of employees, unacceptable performances are inevitable. These should be minimized to the most practical extent through effective training and quality control. Abusive behavior should be appropriately punished.

    The TSA culture should be imbued with, “We shall screen passengers in a quality manner, quality in effectiveness and quality in personal respect.”

    1. I would say profiling handicapped people, while we SOMEHOW find a way to let SOME frequent flyers avoid some of this via a Pre-Check program [sic: secret process, Orwellian in nature, with no statistical proof that the anointed passengers are any MORE safe than any other US citizen…), shows where the airlines and the TSA stand in terms of human decency and constitutional rights.

      1. Security screening (not to be confused with body scanners), by its nature and the word “secure” is a secret process. How secure could it be if all step processes were outlined explicitly?

        I never commented on profiling handicapped persons. Why is this a reply to my post? I said all screening should be done with personal respect.

        1. I disagree that security has to be secret process. If I enter a federal courthouse, I can clearly see the security procedure and process. Put bag through x-ray. Walk through WTMD. I might be asked where I am going, which is more a function of wayfinding, but may also have a security component. No secrets are needed at courthouses or at airports.

          1. A single step, such as body scanning, certainly is subject to review and is not secret. However, the entire security system is secret, as it should be. Why would you give a complete roadmap to a terrorist and say, “These is the system of ALL screening measures which you must pass to get by TSA?”

            The comparison to security measures used elsewhere is not particularly appropriate. Metal detectors are used at many public places and functions. Guns are not the only weapon on airliners, as proven in the past and on 9-11.. This is not a rock concert or courtroom. We do not have a history of jihadists entering our common everyday courtrooms with suicide bombs and box cutters with which to kill participants. The range of real (proven) threats is much larger on our airplanes. The system, therefore, is much larger and more complex.

          2. A history of one incident. As for the “roadmap,” if all of these terrorist cells bound and determined to bring down another plane haven’t managed in the past twelve years figured out how to get a job at the TSA or in an airport and get all of the “roadmap” details, or simply looked around at the airport and on the Internet, then they aren’t very good terrorists and not really a threat.

            What other “real (proven) threats” that are on airplanes that couldn’t be used anywhere else, say an office, bus, train, or courtroom?

          3. You think you know the entire security system protecting our airliners? You must have the highest security clearances. You think a TSA screener, or even an airport director of security, knows the entire system?

            For anyone to think that what one sees looking around an airport checkpoint is the totality of our security system is simplistic and wrong. The internet, like this open forum, has lots of conjecture. A terrorist would be totally confused by using the internet as a source of the system. Even if they understood all processes in detail does not imply they know the knowledge fed into the system.

            The fact a threat could be used somewhere and the probability they will be are two different considerations. As many have pointed out here, there is no fool-proof system. The government, like private sector businesses, uses risk assessment to narrow the potential field of risks for maximum effectiveness.

            Risk exists in most everything. The effort by everyone, whether conscious or not, is to minimize that risk. It cannot be eliminated.

            Absolutist thinking, the situation is either black or white, does nothing to help protect the individual or the nation. With that thinking you would avoid walking on a sidewalk, for fear of a runaway bus careening into you. Is that a probable situation for which we should wear rear-view mirrors on our head? Of course not. That “safety measure” would be worthless, based on our common sense, and in fact a distraction from real threats immediately on the path in front of us.

            The government, however, uses far more information than common sense to determine probable threats to our national security. It has an intelligence network devoted to such knowledge. While some can mock our intelligence system by anecdotes of well-known foibles, two recent movies about real events, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, highlighted real-life successes.

            Almost all of the successes must remain secret to preserve the integrity of the system. If you can’t understand why, then it would be futile to try to convince you of most anything.

          4. I can think of a reason why every single person on earth should have a full and complete list of ALL screening measures they must pass to get by TSA: because the TSA claims that by walking up to the checkpoint we have consented to these screening measures. How can I consent? I don’t even know what I’m supposedly consenting to!

            Today, as the law stands, I could walk up to the checkpoint, and the TSA could say that the security measures consist of having to have sex with the dude who stands at the little table checking IDs, and I would have no legal right to say that I refuse to do such a thing and no right to demand to leave the airport rather than submit to such “screening”. Because, you see, I’ve already consented to whatever the TSA wants to do to me. The TSA claims that this is because it can’t allow bad guys and t’rrr’rrsts to abandon the search procedure at the moment they fear discovery. But I claim that I need to know what the screeners want to do to me before I can decide whether I’m willing to let them do it.

            The TSA claimed in court while fighting the EPIC lawsuit that they have the right to require live, in person strip searches. If the TSA demanded to strip search you, SoBeSparky, or to amputate your hand, as part of its “screening” measures, after you have already given up your right to say no, then would you understand the problem with “secret” security measures?

    2. It should involve respect, but the TSA is staffed mostly by ignorant idiots who couldn’t get a job in the private sector. I also witnessed TSA agents mistreat a pre-op transsexual at IAH. One of the Government Idiots actually shouted across the screening area: “SHE’S A MAN!!!” While the other useless lackies laughed about it.

      1. Raven, you are just filled with your anecdotes, aren’t you? Nothing what you say contradicts or adds to my comments. You did prove, however, how you continue to classify people by their occupation. I am certain you can back that up by test results, or personal interviews with the approximately 50,000 scanners.

        It is vastly unfair to people to be lumped together with an irrational comment such as this. Somehow this discussion always breaks down into gross generalizations which are unproven and derogatory name-calling.

      2. Raven, don’t you realize that it’s racist to object to a government employee committing a hate crime against a transgendered person?

        I really must axe you not to be so racist.

        1. Better watch it! You’ll be on the “naughty” list since sarcasm and hyperbole seem to be lost on the masses these days. (A sad testament to the American education system!)

          Even though I have never received a formal warning, my posts are being deleted by one of the moderators. At this point, I guess it’s a personal vendetta.

          But whatevs.

    3. I do not believe it is possible to give authority to one group of people to carry out invasive searches of the bodies of another group of people, and yet make sure that interaction is respectful. It can’t be done. I cite the Stanford Prison Experiment and Stanley Milgram’s findings.

      From Wikipedia: “Twenty-four male students out of 75 were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building. The participants adapted to their roles well beyond Zimbardo’s expectations, as the guards enforced authoritarian measures and ultimately subjected some of the prisoners to psychological torture.Many of the prisoners passively accepted psychological abuse and, at the request of the guards, readily harassed other prisoners who attempted to prevent it. The experiment even affected Zimbardo himself, who, in his role as the superintendent, permitted the abuse to continue. One-third of the guards were judged to have exhibited “genuine sadistic tendencies”, while many prisoners were emotionally traumatized, as two of them had to be removed from the experiment early.”

      Lest you claim that TSA checkpoints do not resemble prisons, I’ll just note the presence of: people in police-style uniforms ordering travelers around in a dictatorial fashion that would be unthinkable in any other place, glassed-in holding cells, forced removal of clothing, and the explicit threat of arrest and imprisonment if one does not submit.

      What you demand, that TSA culture respect its victims, can never be achieved.

      1. I did not read the entire study, but I don’t see that it conformed to my specific conditions, “These should be minimized to the most practical extent through effective training and quality control.” What training, quality control and discipline measures were in place during this experiment? Quality control is a continuous process, not a one-time step.

        The design of any experiment is key to the validity of its results.

        1. I maintain that, regardless of the study’s validity, prisons are not places where anyone would expect to find guards treating prisoners with respect. There is an enormous power differential that corrupts the people on both sides of that hideous divide.

          The TSA checkpoint experience is about as similar to prison inmate status as most travelers will ever come, and I fail to see how “respect” could ever be part of the equation. One doesn’t respectfully go through another person’s belongings looking for weapons. One doesn’t respectfully lay hands on a stranger’s body to try to find where the guns or drugs are hidden.

          I think you’re asking for an impossibility. If the TSA respected me, they wouldn’t be treating me like a potential terrorist.

      1. Yes it is. The last record on this issue on Oct. 1, 2012, was that the court refused to hear a challenge to the TSA scanning based on the Fourth Amendment. Your opinion is well and good, but it is not the law of the land.

        1. That actually wasn’t what they said, but that was a nice try.

          What SCOTUS actually said, if you had bothered to read the opinion, was that they lacked jurisdiction because the case had not yet been through the appropriate channels. They made no ruling whatsoever as to the Fourth Amendment applicability to that case.

          It was tossed out on a technicality.

          1. “That actually wasn’t what they said, but that was a nice try.”

            Huh? I never said on what basis it was refused to be heard. I stated a straight-forward fact, “…the court refused to hear a challenge to the TSA scanning based on the Fourth Amendment.”

  5. “There is no bigger supporter of TSA on the planet than me.”

    But there are phrases like this which make one lose faith in humanity.

    “Frommer has also dismissed the TSA’s critics as “alarmist” and “sensation-seeking.””

    And there are people like Frommer who also make you lose the rest of what little faith you had left.

    At this point, no, I don’t think there’s any common ground. Some apparently don’t care if airports are police states (a state which is increasingly spreading to everywhere), and some of us are willing to stand up and say that to live that way is to declare the terrorist the winners.

  6. Chris,

    You are asking the wrong question. To the question “Should the TSA pat down children in wheel chairs” the answer is Yes. The question is “Should the TSA have special needs TSO specifically trained to address children, the elderly and the handicapped at every checkpoint on every shift, who work with the ttraveler and their parent/aid while not violating SOP? Then yes.

    1. That is entirely the wrong approach.

      The question is not “Should the The TSA have special needs TSO [to make the pat down more convenient or seemingly “less” offensive for whatever group].”

      The question should be, “Why is the TSA using such ineffective and barbaric methods to begin with?

    2. Fish, I disagree that such intrusive searches are needed in the first place, so I don’t think changing how these searches are done makes a difference.

  7. We’ve cancelled a cruise to Venice because we just didn’t want to fly anymore. The TSA, and all it’s shenanigans has cost the travel industry upwards of $8,000. Not a lot in the scheme of things. But my husband and I, in our 70’s, decided we didn’t want to spend a wad of money to be separated from our possessions, (the TSA has “helped themselves” to a gold necklace I inadvertently packed in our luggage, yeah I know MY bad) or for us to be groped, or to stand in line forever, We don’t want to be shouted at or glared at. We have had our luggage dug through on everyone of our trips. I’ve had to take out things from luggage to locate a pair of tweezers! My husband has had a knee replacement, and that’s going to cause a stir no doubt because they’ve never seen that before. Next, since we were flying such a distance, we didn’t relish 31″ seats for 12 hours, and then to arrive at our destination sans luggage. We’ve had it all happen, and I just want to relax on this trip. So we’re leaving out of Miami (we live in Florida). It’s not the trip we wanted, but we wanted to be hassled less. Besides, in the service industry, nobody cares as long as they have your money.

    1. You cancelled a trip to Venice because you didn’t want to be “separated from your possessions,” stand in line, shouted at or glared at? Have you ever been to Venice or Italy in general? Obviously not.

      If you go to Italy, be prepared to (1) stand in line, (2) be shouted at, (3) be glared at and (4) be groped if you’re a woman — Italian men are pigs.

      Being separated from your possessions is a big deal? You don’t check luggage, use the bell services, etc? News flash, your cruise out of Florida is going to pick up your bags and leave them in the hallway by your cabin door with 10,000 other bags — and nobody’s watching them. Anybody walking down that hallway can grab your bag until you get to your cabin. Oh, yeah, you leave them in the hallway the night before disembarking as well — all out in the open with no control over them.

      Oh, and the TSA stole your necklace? Really? Not the baggage handler at the check-in desk, or taking it to the plane, or taking it off the plane, or putting it on the luggage belt. But the TSA, right? Logic and reason tells me you have no idea where it disappeared, but have no problem blaming the TSA. Sure they COULD have, but you have no idea, do you?

      Blaming the TSA for “costing the travel industry $8,000” makes it sound like you’re deciding not to go because of the TSA, but if you did even the most basic research on Italy and Venice, everything you cited is extremely prevalent there.

      I’m calling BS on your whole story – you either made it up to enflame the TSA-loonies or you’re ill prepared to travel to Italy or on a cruise.

      1. Good thing she’s not going to Venice then since it’s such a horrible place. I guess she should rethink that cruise ship too.

        Here’s a thought: maybe we can get all the Walmart rejects a job on the cruise lines and in Venice since they seem to fit so well there. Then we’d be rid of their abuse and their $8 billion a year price tag.

          1. To quote from this blog entry:

            “While there’s plenty of evidence that the American federal government is actively engaged in blogging and other forms of social media, it’s also an undeniable fact that some air travelers stand behind anything the TSA does — no matter how
            ill-advised or constitutionally problematic.”

        1. TSA-defender. That’s pretty funny, actually. In reality, I don’t give the TSA a second thought. They’re like pebbles on a white sand beach. Minor bumps on a pleasant stroll and nothing that’s going to distract from the pleasure of my trip.

          What do I think of the TSA? I don’t think of them.

          1. “What do I think of the TSA? I don’t think of them.”

            Then why do you spend so much time reading threads about the TSA?

      2. I think you’re making a huge number of unwarranted assumptions. I travel the world (China, India, Thailand, France, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Sweden, and Australia in the past few years) and I never allow others to carry my luggage, nor do I ever check luggage. I pack one bag, and I transport it myself, because I do not want strangers to invade my privacy or steal from me. I decline housekeeping service for the same reason.

        I also do not tolerate street harassment, which you seem to think is cute (Italian men are pigs is what you said. That sounds awfully like you’re excusing criminal and sexist behavior based on one’s country of origin. No, harassing and assaulting women is not okay, not even for men born in Italy, and I don’t hesitate to involve the police if someone assaults me on the street.)

        Travel does not *require* risking the loss of your belongings and it does not require permitting filthy animals masquerading as humans to abuse your body. These things might be part of DavidYoung’s travel experiences, but they are no part of mine.

        1. I’m glad you don’t “tolerate” ageless cultural differences when traveling abroad. You must be a delight to the citizens of countries whose customs you don’t like.

          You travel to China but pack only one bag which you transport yourself, whatever that means. So you only travel with a carry-on to China and Australia? Or do you travel by private jet?

          I hope you get help with your issues. People who adhere to different customs than do you are not “filthy animals masquerading as humans” just because you say so.

          Gee — I wonder from where the notion of the ignorant and ‘ugly’ American came?

          1. You honestly believe that a woman traveling abroad should accept being harassed and groped because you believe it is an “ageless cultural difference?” What drivel. I have traveled extensively including Asia, the Middle East and Europe, including Italy. I have not been groped and none of the women with whom I traveled were groped. I guess next you’re going to say we’re all too ugly, right? Is this what you tell your mother, sisters, daughters?

          2. Sorry, I don’t tell them anything. The ladies of my family are perfectly capable of handling it themselves. My wife grew up on Sao Paulo, so when she encountered an abusive restauranteur in Rome last year, she “went Brazilian” on him.

            I just sat back and smiled.

          3. Aren’t abusive restauranteurs an “ageless cultural difference” in Italy that your wife should have just tolerated with a smile and said “Grazie”? I’m confused…or you are.

          4. So, you have not been bothered, therefore it does not happen?

            “Yes, Italian (and other Mediterranean) men pinch bottoms
            and rub up against women, usually in crowded places, and make the most surprising and sometimes raunchy propositions. (Greek shopkeepers sometimes corner solo women and offer to show them some more “special merchandise” upstairs.)”

            The State Department routinely publishes warnings about women being routinely sexually harassed in some parts of the world but perhaps that too is fiction?

          5. Yes, I carry one bag that fits in the overhead and I wash clothes during my trip. The longest trip I’ve taken with one carry-on bag was about six weeks of dashing around Europe. Traveling light has many advantages: changing hotels and changing cities and catching trains and switching flights if one gets cancelled are all far easier when you don’t need to check luggage. There’s a letter here from a man describing his trip around China with one bag: http://www.onebag.com/mail.html

            I do not “have issues” because I would find a stranger grabbing me to be offensive and terrifying. Are you, by chance, the kind of man who likes to grope women as an expression of your different customs? I think your comments speak for themselves about what kind of man you are.

      3. (1) Your statement “Italian men are pigs” is racist and revolting (not that there is anything wrong with actual pigs–they’re a whole lot more sensible than people who write things like the above comment). I am married to an Italian. All my in-laws are Italian. In my medium-long life, the crimes perpetrated against me–from theft to embezzlement to battery to sexual assault–were perpetrated by all-American WASP men. Not by Italians.

        (2) When your luggage is separated from you and TSA has it, you are not permitted to lock it. Thus, they help themselves to your belongings and you won’t know until you arrive at your destination and unpack. When your luggage is in the possession of bellhops, etc., you are able to lock it. I don’t know about you, but I always do. And at hotels, you’re not restricted to one small carryon bag; you can keep irreplaceable/valuable things and medications with you.

        (3) The TSA’s theft problem is not a figment of someone’s imagination. It is well-documented and has been the subject of extensive reporting, in numerous media, including Internet and print articles and local and national TV. One station even set up a sting effort whereby they had iPads with tracking devices in their reporters’ carryons. In one case, they actually filmed the reporter going to the door of the TSA agent’s house, where the stolen iPad was beeping. He of course denied having stolen it and said his wife had “bought it”. The TSA fired him after issuing the usual talking points about him “not being representative of their fine workforce”–or else, maybe he said that “proper procedure was followed”. It’s so hard to keep their lies straight.

        (4) There is nothing “loony” about people who don’t like to have their bodies inappropriately groped and their possessions stolen. I’m guessing you’re one of those people who assume that since you, personally, have never had a horrific TSA experience yet–never had an expensive medical device broken, or a prosthesis removed and held up for all to see, or a child terrorized to the point of tears, or a dead relative’s ashes spilled on the ground while a TSA agent laughs, or, having recovered from a sexual assault earlier in your life, utterly traumatized when a complete stranger smacks you, gropes your breasts or shoves his or her hands down your pants–well, then, everyone who *does* report these things happening (and there are thousands upon thousands of us) is making it up so as to enflame.

        Your disrespect for your fellow human beings–Italian and non-Italian alike–is contemptible. That you blithely describe the men of an entire nationality as “pigs”, and go on to assert that anyone complaining about TSA abuse is, ipso facto, a liar, says a great deal about you, sir.

        None of it nice.

      4. “Oh, and the TSA stole your necklace? Really? Not the baggage handler at the check-in desk,”

        Yes, TSA *must* take the blame for items stolen from checked luggage. Have you not figured out if light-fingered Larry can *take* things from baggage he can also put things *into* luggage, like say a small bomb? A surprising number of people with “backstage” access do not have to go through any kind of screening as they enter and exit secure areas dozens of times a day and as long as they aren’t holding a cartoon bomb with sizzling fuse int heir hands, they can bring just about anything into the secure areas.


    The real problem is people DO support some kind
    of security at the airport. The details are often lost and people just
    respond emotionally to their feelings that “the government definitely
    should keep me safe”.

    However, if I asked someone if they supported the TSA touching TEENAGE girls in the CROTCH, I would love to see who says “yes”. We can find a few in Congress, FYI.

    And, imagine if the teenager was in a wheelchair. What now? If you don’t feel them up, then you have a security hole because all those well-equipped terrorists will use teenage girls to smuggle PETN sheets into an airport. Not that there is a good way to use non-metallic ignition which works, as we have seen from the only 2 global attempts since 1997, which failed massively.

    We can improve air travel tremendously by going back to 2002 – metal detectors only, shoes on, bring liquids. That is acceptable compromise as no US citizen has caused a fatality from non-metallic bombings in over 50 years. People who are afraid of those odds are welcome to drive, take a boat, or use a train. Of course, anyone who flew in 2002 must agree with me of course that that was adequate security…….

    1. @facebook-100002152481201:disqus But why even use metal detectors? As someone pointed out last week, guns & knives are supposedly no longer a threat so what threat are you trying to deter with the metal detector? You already pointed out that explosives are the biggest threat and metal detectors do nothing to deter that threat (we can argue on how effective non-metallic firing systems can be). In fact the US government tested the bomb that fizzled and it worked very well (http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=fe7_1329504124 )

      I flew in 2002. I would argue that the security at that time dealt with the known threats. Since that time, the threats have evolved. Wishing that wasn’t so doesn’t change that. If we’re going to wish threats away, lets just go back to the 50’s with no airport security at all.

      1. I’m as anti-TSA as they come, but I still think there is value in searching for guns. Beyond the issue of whether a bullet can pierce the plane’s exterior and cause structural damage (I don’t know the answer to that), would you really want the bloodshed of a mass massacre at 30,000 feet, perhaps hundreds of miles from the nearest airport? While blades can cause bloodshed too (as can any number of everyday objects that can be fashioned into sharp edges), someone with a knife is going to be subdued rather quickly, without causing mass casualties, unlike a passenger shooting up a plane in the middle of the night.

        1. If you’d like to prevent guns from getting onto planes, consider this. Guns are much better found by metal detectors than scanners. Also, no gun has yet been found in a woman’s vagina or in a man’s testicles.

          So by choosing the scanners and groping as the principle method of screening, TSA has pretty much given the go ahead for passengers to bring guns onboard.

          Yes, I know that TSA brags about the guns it finds. Those are found by metal detectors.

          1. I agree fully that there was no reason (beyond fear-mongering and lining the pockets of well-connected lobbyists and ex-government officials) to scrap metal detectors and bag x-rays as the primary screening.

          2. If you’re going to report something, at least get it right. The guns are normally found during the X-Ray of checked or carry on luggage. That’s how they found the throwing knife hidden in a shoe last week. Of course the week before that, they found a non-metallic dagger (ie it would not have been found using a magnetometer) using the scanners you so love to hate.

            You may not like the TSA but at least report factual information to people so they can make an informed opinion.

          3. And what of that scary non-metallic dagger? BFD.

            The scanner found it. Big whoop. What in the world sort of “threat” is that to an airplane anyway?

          4. Thank you for reinforcing my point that the scanners and groping are not the most effective means of preventing guns on planes. I was specifically pointing out that guns carried on a person’s body are more effectively detected by metal detectors than by scanners or fondling passengers’ privates. Therefore I did not feel the need to elaborate about guns concealed in luggage.

            However, as you have so vehemently stated, guns that are detected in luggage are detected by X-ray, not by scanners or by groping people’s privates. Further proof that scanners and groping are not effective means of preventing guns on planes. Thank you for your help in proving my position.

      2. “Since that time, the threats have evolved.” There are an infinite number of potential exploits and an infinite number of potential targets. It makes no sense for TSA to ratchet up security from guarding a single target against four potential exploits to guarding against five potential exploits. At the risk of bringing my profession into this, infinity minus five is still infinity.

  9. It’s not the concept of travel security which is the problem, it’s the way that the TSA and othere security operations carry out the task which IS the problem. Better training, better procedures, better supervision and different equipment. There are ways to achieve security without upsetting the traveling public.

  10. This incident from the TSA was pretty bad, but the posting on the “TSA defender” blog that Chris mentioned and subsequent comments are just disgusting and incredibly cruel. I’m not necessarily against the TSA and what it does (though sometimes I have a hard time believing it really makes air travel safer) but the things said on that other blog are just uncalled for and amount to bullying this mother and her daughter, and perhaps handicapped people in general. I hope karma comes back to that guy.

  11. With all due respect, Chris, the vitriol and personal attacks emanate from the anti-TSA crowd, too. Over on the Consumer Traveler blog, an anti-TSA poster compared a pro-TSA poster, whose only crime was to point out that they had never been subjected to TSA abuse personally, to those who believe rape victims are asking for it. That’s simply uncalled for. I have also seen several instances in the comments whenever you run TSA stories of anti-TSA posters insinuating that anyone who doesn’t opt-out every time and doesn’t get verbally in the face of TSA agents are cowards and deserve their punishment. And don’t even try to suggest improvements to TSA, because only the complete dismantling of the TSA is acceptable, and anyone who suggests otherwise “doesn’t get it” and is a shill for the agency. Does that make it right when the pro-TSA crowd calls people un-American for exercising their rights to protest, no, but it’s time to acknowledge that both sides are guilty of mudslinging. That’s the main reason why I tend to refrain from commenting on TSA day.

    Now personally, I think the biggest problem with the TSA is that the agency as a whole is accountable, because they instantly wave the wand of “national security” to sweep abuses like the one documented here under the rug. I wouldn’t hold my breath that this screener, or any screener guilty of an abusive pat-down, will be effectively disciplined. After all, the TSA can change the rules of the game at its whim in the name of “national security”, and so you will see the usual dismissal from Pistole that the agent in question “followed standard operating procedure” with the usual BS that he or she will be “counseled to be more sensitive” next time. TSA agents on a power trip know they can be abusive towards customers, because they can get away with it without repercussions. It’s the same thing you see within the ranks of flight attendants and gate agents – they’re rude because they know you’re not going to push back since they have absolute power to kick you off the flight in the name of “security”. And that, my friends, is the real shame – even one abuse is one too many, and it is a shame that we as a society are willing to accept all of this in the name of “security”.

    1. Yeah, I was called a “rape apologist” because I have not personally been mistreated by the TSA. I have seen some issues, and reported them (no answers to my emails, thanks TSA)

      I was also told that I suffer from “male privilege” because I was told that I since I’m a guy I could not be “raped” by the TSA.


    2. I, too, have been subjected to anti-TSA vitriol, just for pointing out that in years of heavy travel, I’ve never had one bad experience — except for a grumpy agent in NYC and a sloppy TSA kid likely in his first day on the job in Dallas. The haters need something to hate, and TSA is convenient. Sure, TSA has foolish rules: remove shoes, laptops out of bags. But I keep waiting for Chris and the other anti- folks to say what they would put in place of an abolished TSA.

      1. “But I keep waiting for Chris and the other anti- folks to say what they would put in place of an abolished TSA.”

        Then I suggest you go back and read old entries and comments, because such suggestions have been made NUMEROUS times over the last several years.

        But hey, the lazy need a scapegoat, and claiming that nobody has suggested what should replace TSA is convenient.

      2. The only effective strategies against terrorism are intelligence and police work. (And possibly better foreign policy, but I’ll leave aside that political point.) So I’d invest the billions we are wasting feeling up three-year-old disabled girls into training competent translators, spies, and detectives, so that we could have a chance of repeating the U.K.’s police/intelligence successes in foiling the liquids bombing plot and another recent plot to bomb British cities. Checkpoints only secure one miniscule corner of American life. It’s a much better proposition to go find the bad guys than to proceed with the war on shampoo at airports. After all, bombings at malls and sporting events would leave people just as dead as they’d be in an airplane attack.

        At the checkpoint, I would use metal detectors and baggage x-rays (the false Maginot line here is laughably pointless, but such efforts make ignorant people feel better so the beeping metal detectors can be thought of as psychological aids.)

      3. Please don’t lump and label those critical of TSA policies and procedures as “haters [who] need something to hate.” That is simply not true.

        It isn’t “convenient” to disagree with the TSA. IMHO, it is my right and my personal duty to call out serious problems with a government agency through my representatives and in fora such as this.

        I don’t recall if I have, but if I have subjected you to “anti-TSA vitriol,” rather than merely disagreeing with you, then I apologize for my words.

        1. I won’t call anti-TSA folks as “haters” if they will stop calling me an “apologist” when all I am saying is that, as a frequent traveler, I have not experienced any problems with TSA. Deal?

          1. I think I can make that deal with you. I will not call you an apologist and will be more careful about whom I call an apologist. Sound good?

  12. You cannot control thugs. These TSA morons are entitled by “themselves” to make asses of “themselves” and ruin poeple’s trips. I have had the urge to hit, scream, and just go home after watching the TSA agents in Clarksburg WV and Pittsburgh. The worse TSA agent ever, put my blind 13 year old student in a glass holding cell while Manager TSA Moron was paged to check out her collapsable cane. 30 minutes and 10,000 tears later, we got through. What power have they shown or taught to travelers?

  13. I think where some TSA apologists are coming from is a place of: “The intentions are good, so we ought to support what TSA does.” I can actually appreciate this argument. It may well be true that every person working for TSA sincerely believes that irradiating passengers, separating children from their parents and toys, confiscating shampoo, and sticking their hands down people’s pants makes aviation safer. I am willing to concede that point, and continue with the assumption that TSA is doing these things because someone believes that doing these things might prevent terrorism.

    But having said that, I want to argue further that (A) sincere beliefs can be wrong: the TSA is demonstrably failing to keep weapons off of planes and failing to identify terrorists, and that (B) measures taken to improve safety frequently backfire and either cancel out or in fact increase the risks they are supposed to address, and the TSA is a textbook case.

    To point A: loaded guns, a five pound block of C4, box cutters, and Adam Savage’s 12-inch razor blades are all known to have been carried into the passenger compartments of aircraft since the TSA’s offensive searches began. The latest tests of which we are aware show results like a 70% failure rate to detect weapons and explosives, five out of five guns successfully carried through a body scanner in Dallas, and a man setting off a rather large explosion on German TV with the objects he carried through a body scanner. The TSA can not keep weapons off of planes even if they could detect all weapons, because everyday objects like shoelaces and credit cards and even one’s bare hands can all be turned into improvised weapons. The Government Accountability Office says behavior detection officers failed to identify 16 known terrorists as they transited airports on 23 separate occasions, as against a success rate of *zero* terrorists identified. The TSA can’t find terrorists or weapons with the methods they’re using.

    To point B: Yes, it’s possible for the cure to be worse than the disease! Examples abound: adding road caution signs can increase cognitive load such that the accident rate rises, requiring bicycle helmets raised the fatal accident rate in Australia because the law reduced cycling by one-third and the smaller number of cyclists on the road were more surprising to motorists, and gated communities meant their gates to keep out crime but found they also compromised rapid emergency response.

    The TSA offends people and causes diversion from the airplanes to the roads, causing 15 deaths for every million passengers diverted. The TSA endangers people’s health by pressing on injured areas, removing bandages and contaminating wounds, demanding that disabled people walk or stand in stress positions, confiscating medically necessary supplies, and breaking insulin pumps and other sensitive medical devices with their scanning machines. The TSA trains children to let strangers touch their bodies, and re-traumatizes PTSD and rape survivors. The TSA exposes people needlessly to carcinogenic radiation, of which there is no safe dose.

    It’s entirely possible to accept these two statements simultaneously: the TSA has only the best intentions when it searches passengers, and the TSA should be immediately disbanded or severely restricted in what it can do to innocent travelers.

  14. I agree with Mery mom! I’m 75 & the wife 72 & detest flying in the U.S.
    Even with the “Special Status” We are fed up with the “glares”, the broken retina ID machines, misinformation & downright indifference. Like flying twice in the last month & the persons supposed to be checking the carry on & other items through the machine looking elsewhere or talking & not paying any attention.
    It would seem to me that based on our TSA experiences most of the staff are people who otherwise could not get a job in the private sector, let alone in security.
    They are(mostly) very rude & indifferent to passengers & it would not hurt to train these people that they could be pleasant & smile & still be more effective in routing out all the “dangerous” types.
    Only the very worst cases (as the case of the 3 year old) make for headlines! it’s the every day put downs glares, rudeness & the getapo like behaviour that many TSA agents exhibit that is so upsetting.
    The only country where the flying experience is worse – Russia. They don’t have a TSA but their airlines are far worse. No leg room, stewardesses the rudest ever,& on longer flights no refreshments at all, free or for pay.

  15. The TSA should NOT be patting down ANYBODY! It is an illegal search. I want every single apologist aggressively patted down to the point that they cry just like this little girl and then I want to hear their acceptance of such methods. And, if, by chance, my plane blows up because a terrorist brought a plane down, you can say I deserved it because I hated the TSA. But, on the hundreds of other flights that don’t get blown up, I can feel like I’ve kept my rights intact and not given them willy-nilly to my government.

    1. Can we please have a discussion without the name calling? Do you begin to see why your moderators are growing concerned with the tone of the comments here?

  16. they need a better way to handle children in general. kids have no idea what’s going on- so yes- kids will cry, freak out, panic— but according to policy they cannot have a parent offer even verbal comfort.

    TSA pat downs are like taking your child to a Doctor’s appointment, the parent should be there, to explain to the child that they are not in intimidate danger.

    Can you imagine if you took your child to a doctor and he forced you to wait 10 feet away at all times?

      1. Hrm, it seems like dourdan missed a ‘not’ in that sentence, or otherwise just didn’t word it well at all.

        But otherwise, I get the gist of what dourdan person was saying (and hence my up-liking it): TSA’s policies are flat out antithetical to what most would consider good parenting.

        Parents teach their children to not trust strangers. Yet, in the story above (and in countless others), TSA are not only strangers, they have no care of whether a child understands what is going on, and parents are forced to watch on helplessly.

  17. Wow. So the TSA thinks 3 year old girls in wheelchairs are terrorists now? Seriously? Who would think this is an acceptable way to behave? I’m not anti TSA but there is such a thing as going too far.

  18. wow no shortage of idiots in love with the tsa esp the lib in boston… if they really ever found anything or anyone that cause really cause a problem i would be impressed but they just grope and touch the innocent all over… very sad they have such a fan club …sheep following????? this is a HOT TOPIC I SEE

  19. I’m sorry, but my initial reaction to that video is that that child is crying because she was separated from her toys. She stops crying immediately once she allowed to play on her tablet. I have never seen a child go through airport security without being separated from a stuffed animal and I have never seen anyone go through without being separated from a tablet. I read a statement from the father which says she’d never flown before and didn’t know what to expect. The crying, which the parents are exploiting in their annotated video is a result of her parents failing to adequately preparing their child for being separated from her toys for a few minutes.

    Now, I don’t know what the customary TSA procedure is for screening children in wheelchairs. I don’t want to condemn or defend the TSA on that point, but if I was flying for the first time with a child in a wheelchair, I believe I would attempt to contact the airport or the TSA about the procedure, and again, show up adequately prepared.

    The only thing I see “wrong” with that video is the TSA agent repeating that it’s illegal to film. And to be honest, I highly doubt that the TSA agent even knows that it’s not illegal. So boo to the TSA, train your agents better about what can and can’t be filmed.

    1. My daughter has been flying since she was six months old. She knows that Bear has to go for a ride on the belt and waves goodbye as it goes through the ‘shower’ to get clean. Crying children are indeed a sad sight, but shouldn’t the parents have told her that teddy needed to go for a ride?

  20. If we make an exception that little girls in wheelchairs don’t get searched, won’t the terrorists just put a little girl in a wheelchair with a bomb?

    1. Good heavens, get real! The TSA has created wonderful targets for terrorists through all the lines of passengers waiting to be scoped or groped. Don’t you think that if there were actually those out there wanting to attack, they would have done it by now in a checkpoint line? Or better yet, coordinated attacks at several lines at several airports.

    2. Except, nobody has said that at all. But thanks for playing Intentional Word Twister.

      Although, by your apparent logic, everybody should have a cavity search to board a plane. After all, a bomb could be put ‘up there’. And we wouldn’t want the terrorist exploiting a, ahh, hole in security that’s been there from the start.

    3. LOL, Psyguy, your entire statement is based upon the assumptions that (1) there are hoards of terrorists with little children in wheelchairs that SUCCESSFULLY get through the original security (which, BTW, the little girl in question did. This family was stopped after going through security, on the way to the airplane in the concourse) (2) frisking by 2-week wonders is the only way we stop terrorist activity. If you truly believe that there is a terrorist lurking behind every corner, let me give you this idea that can keep you up at night. You should be more afraid of terrorists spraying lettuce fields with e-coli or salmonella. Your assessment of risk is faulty and your presumption that our wonderful Guardians of the Air actually stop terrorist activity are wonderfully fantastic.

    4. I wish just one person who parrots this ridiculous statement would stop and take the time to actually figure out the logistics of how it would be possible to get an American child in a wheelchair to blow up a plane. Really figure out all the details about how it could possibly be done. Not movie plot procedures, mind you, but actual logistics that someone would have to go through to bring off such a thing.

      Once you start to figure out exactly what would be involved, only a fool could ever believe it’s a serious risk that an American child in a wheelchair will ever blow up a plane. It’s simply a preposterous supposition that disabled children are any real threat.

      BTW, not that I think there is much risk of a child in a wheelchair from any other nation blowing up a plane either, but I am focusing on the US and including US culture and customs as a hurdle to such an operation.

  21. I finally had some time to listen and watch this. I don’t find anything offensive in it. The little girl is upset because of not having her stuff and once she gets them, she is fine. The TSA agent was pleasant, as was the mother. Our two year old cried when TSA took away her stroller to put it through the metal detector. She does that at home when something she wants is taken from her or if she is tired.

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