Who’s afraid of the TSA?

Today’s tale of TSA inefficiency comes from the Atlantic Avenue subway station in Brooklyn, NY.

“This station has at least six entrances,” says Jeff, one of my readers who witnessed the spectacle. “But the TSA was only set up at one of the two that I saw. If someone was up to no good they would just walk past the turnstile entrance where the TSA was and go to one of the other entrances. It is such a waste of time and money that they are allowed to do this.”

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I asked Jeff if I could mention his observations in an upcoming story. But that’s when he clammed up.

“Do you have to use my name if you write about it?” he asked.

Yes, I told him. I normally use full names.

You’d probably be surprised by how many readers come to me with their TSA stories, only to insist on anonymity. Jeff is just one of many law-abiding US citizens who is afraid of his own government. And it’s easy to see why.

Fear of the “no fly” list

Travelers are afraid that if they speak up, the TSA will add them to the “a list.” They’re not exactly sure which list their names will go on, but they’re pretty sure it will keep them from boarding their next flight.

You could blame the odd, incomplete media coverage of the “no fly” list for that irrational sentiment. After all, thanks to a computer “glitch” a child recently is said to have been added to the “no fly” list. And even though that proved to be incorrect — it was a hiccup in the airline’s reservation system — the legend lives on, fueled by the fact that the child they removed from the plane was of Middle Eastern descent.

The takeaway? Anyone could end up on the “no fly” list for any reason.

Truth is, the TSA has nothing to do with the “no fly” list. It’s actually maintained by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, and you don’t get added to it by criticizing the TSA.

If you did, I wouldn’t be able to fly anywhere.

Questioning your patriotism

Other readers are reluctant to come forward because they would be branded as “bad” Americans if they did. Just as they think we should offer police officers and members of the armed services proper deference, they believe it’s disrespectful — if not unpatriotic — to criticize the TSA.

That’s also absurd. Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that TSA screeners have no law enforcement authority and only minimal training, which means they are not the equivalent of a cop or a soldier. If you paid any attention in your civics class, then you might recall we wouldn’t have a United States of America unless the people questioned those in power.

I wanted to tell Jeff that it was his duty as an American to tell me his TSA story on the record. After all, the agency was wasting his tax money on the Brooklyn security circus, and if good people like him don’t speak up, then who will?

This idea that by standing up to the TSA you’re being un-American is a slippery slope toward totalitarianism. Undoing the notion that you’re disloyal to your country by speaking up — that’s not as easy.

Whenever I hear from readers who say it’s just wrong to say anything negative about an agency that’s the “last” line of defense against terrorism, I’m reminded of East Germany after World War II, where speaking up was a crime and dissidents were imprisoned for telling the truth about their corrupt government. I had a chance to see that repression up close and personal when I lived in Europe in the 80s.

Be afraid of not saying something

I’ve observed the TSA as an air traveler, a journalist, and a critic since the agency’s inception. Based on years of watching this agency mushroom to its current size and stature, here’s the thing we should fear the most: silence.

When we shuffle silently through the full-body scanners, allow agents to give our daughters and sons “enhanced” pat downs, remove our gels, liquids, and shoes in a senseless display of security theater without saying a word, then we are destined for a world that should frighten us all.

I’ve seen repressive regimes. And if we continue to allow the TSA to go unchallenged, I fear we may end up looking like one.

Think it’ll never happen in the Land of the Free? I hope you’re right. But I suspect there were thousands of dissidents and intellectuals who said to themselves, “It’ll never happen in my Germany” or “in my Russia.” But it did.

And they would probably tell us now: Never say never.

Are you afraid of the TSA?

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182 thoughts on “Who’s afraid of the TSA?

    1. Sorry, absolutely wrong, Chris. This is just the weekly TSA rant. Move on, please.

      I’m afraid of spiders, so what? You want to ban spiders or paint them to make them not scary. People have all kinds of irrational fears based on what ‘might’ happen, with nothing to back it up. Like some airline made a mistake in their reservation system that interfaces with a list that the TSA doesn’t even maintain and manage, and that’s relevant how? Oh, not at all? That’s what I thought. So why include it? Just to fan the fears of the TSA-loonies, probably.

      People can be scared or be rational. Either one is fine. (PS: I am also afraid of deep water, which is irrational because anything over 7 feet deep is gonna drown me just as much as something 2,000 feet deep.)

      1. I’m sure you would have said the same thing to the Jews in pre-WWII, when the Nazi party was slowly but surely, in drips and drabs, taking away their freedoms. Just irrational fears, folks…nothing to see here, move along and stop being such whiners.


        1. I’m not sure drawing an analogy between Nazi Germany and the TSA makes your case for reasonable and rational. Seems a little on the extreme – Just sayin’

          1. I take it you missed the part in the above article…y’know, the one you are commenting on…in which the OWNER of this blog compares the TSA with Nazi Germany? Or do you just come in here and spew out ad-hominem attacks on TSA critics in every article about the TSA on this blog, without actually reading the article itself?

            Just sayin’.

      2. By the way…”TSA Loonies”. Sounds like classic ad hominem to me. Can’t come up with valid arguments to refute the TSA critics? Call them loonies! Belittle and demean them instead of debating the facts! Yes, name-calling is always a good tactic to use when your position itself isn’t strong enough to win a debate.

      3. “So why include it? Just to fan the fears of the TSA-loonies, probably.”

        TSA-loonies? Those being the ones supporting a dysfunctional agency that only pretends to protect you from irrational fesrs. Anti-TSA loonies are the ones opposed to the waste of tax payers money and inhuman treatment at the hands of government thugs in the name of security, exploiting people’s irrational fears.

      4. I’m just confused why, week after week this DavidYoung2 gets to spout this “TSA-loonies” nonsense with no ill effects whatsoever. Why does he get to spout these ad hominem attacks regularly and yet other people are reprimanded for, of all things, ALL CAPS?

        The mods on this site seriously need to get a grip.

        1. Because at least some of the mods on this blog are vehemently pro-TSA. They allow offensive posts from TSA supporters, and ban TSA critics. Which is pretty ironic considering Christopher is one of the most vocal TSA critics out there.

        2. It’s a generalized description of a non-specific group of people, and thus not a personal attack on anyone, and ‘loonie’ isn’t offensive as it’s used regularly to describe a Canadian coin and even a children’s cartoon. And I would also use it to describe people so ‘pro-TSA’ as to be outside of reasonable bounds.

          1. DY2, uh, yeah. We all know you’re not talking about Canadian coins or children’s cartoons. Regardless, some of us have screen shots of comment threads over the past few months where a “generalized description of a non-specific group of people” got comments deleted. We all know why.

          2. An ad-hominem attack need not be directed at just one individual. Calling a group of people a belittling or demeaning name is just as much of an attack as calling one person in that group the name. It’s still an offensive attack. It’s still name-calling. Which is always the first indication that the name-caller has such a weak position in the debate that he can do nothing but spew out offensive names.

            As for trying to defend the term “loonie”? Yeah, okay. Talk about weakening your position. That reminds me of the time when someone posted a blatantly homophobic term, and then defended himself by saying “Hey, that’s what people in the UK call cigarettes!”

            We laughed at him too.

          3. Nice try, but the children’s cartoons Looney Tunes means exactly the same as manner in which I used it. And the Canadian coin is called a Loonie because it features a picture of a Loon, which is bird by the way, the exact bird where we get the term loonie or loony. So clearly it’s not an attempt to obfuscate the true meaning of the word. Next….

          4. Yeah, that worked. You are now free to call those with whom you disagree any demeaning name you want, provided you can find an instance out in the wider world in which the word wasn’t used as an insult.

            I guess that means I can call you a Demented Asshat. Because there’s a rock band with that name. I saw them at the Roxy once.

            Editing to add: just for the record, I’m not actually calling David a demented asshat. I’m just pointing out that, by his demented rules, I could. If I wanted to. Not that I am. 😉

          5. Question for you, David: when you wrote the phrase TSA loonies, were you referring to the Canadian coin (i.e. TSA Canadian coins); the cartoon show (i.e. TSA Loony Tunes by Hanna Barbera) or lunatics (i.e. TSA lunatics). I think we all know which one was on your mind.

            That’s some insidious tapdancing there, David. Insulting people with an ad hominem, and then, when called on it, treating the same people as though we’re stupid and citing one or two of the word’s (very infrequently used) alternate meanings.

            You may want to check out the dictionary definition of loonies. Spelled as you wrote it–loonies–it is the plural of the word loony. The first given definition of loony is: noun a lunatic and adjective lunatic; insane; extremely or senselessly foolish.

            You’ve been busted, O rude, insulting commenter. Ahem, MODS?

          6. The mods aren’t going to reprimand him. They aren’t going to sneakily delete his comments. That is reserved for the “TSA-loonies,” don’t you know?

          7. So anti-TSA people are more accurately described as a Canadian coin? What sort of a*hole are you, exactly?

        3. TSAisTerrorism, I believe it’s because a couple of the mods have hidden agendas and antagonism toward certain posters. A couple of them seem to be extremely uptight and believe people should follow the same rules they follow, no matter how arcane those rules are. Or perhaps they are just naturally base.

        1. Other people are getting their posts deleted, posters are even getting banned. But this insult, which has been used by this poster several times, is allowed to remain?

          The lack of consistency here is disappointing.

          1. It’s the only practical option. Had we caught this early, we would have probably deleted it. But with a long thread of responses, zapping it would have also meant removing all the responses and related discussions.

            Also, I think it’s worth knowing what is — and isn’t — acceptable as far as comments go. This comment clearly crossed the line.

          2. And yet, similar comments with similarly long threads are completely eradicated. Strange the inconsistent and blatantly biased moderator action in this place.

            And I call BS to being unaware of the comment early. I use the report flagging index liberally and frequently since the mods on this board clearly want to act as babysitters. I’m only giving them what they want. I personally flagged that comment 3 different times within 20 minutes of its being posted.

            But, Oh My! no one knew about it. Tsk Tsk…

  1. I’m not afraid. I’m angry. Angry at the abuse and violations by government employees against the flying public. I live in America, not North Korea. We shouldn’t be holding up NK as the “gold standard” for how to treat citizens and visitors to the USA.

  2. what can we do? other then not flying (which is not feasible in many situations).

    The people in charge need to hold TSA to the same standard as police, so when they mess up they can face the same punishment as a police officer would.

    Right now when ever ANYONE reports TSA, all they say is “upon further investigation, we find that outr agents followed protocol.”

    Even in the case about the congressmen’s niece getting her dress pulled down in a very public patdown, all they said was “an investigation concluded that the event was accidental”.

    imagine what would happen to a police officer who did that.

    NOT all TSA agents are bad people, but the ones who are need to be held accountable.

  3. I would really like the TSA to transition over to a full LE agency. ICE can screen passengers through immigration control very well, and they do so professionally many, many time a day. Why not just expand ICE to include airport screening and security as well, then we’d have a TSA we could be proud of?

    Yes, TSA has or hong “directly” to do with maintaining the no fly list, but TSA works under DHS, and I’m sure if (the director) DHS went to FBI (director) and requested a name be added to the no fly list as a mater of national security, it would happen and no one would blink doing it.

    1. No. Absolutely No. The last thing we need is a jobs program that’s allowed to carry with arrest powers. No.

      Just No.

  4. This is the first time I’ve seen Godwin’s Law executed before the first comment! 😉

    But just to be clear, I agree with everything in this article. IMO it’s not actually a manifestation of Godwin’s Law when the issue being discussed is truly equivalent to Nazi Germany. And the TSA is the epitome of totalitarian government oppression, legitimately comparable to Nazi Germany.

    Am I afraid of the TSA? Damn straight I am. We all should be.

    1. LeeAnne – thank you. It’s always a good day for me when I learn new vocabulary. I wonder how many hits “Godwin’s Law” has had on Google today?

      1. LOL Jeanne…glad I could teach you something new! And I’ll bet that once you thought about it, you realized that it’s a pretty accurate description of what happens in almost any internet forum, right?

        Just be careful how often you invoke it over here. I got temporarily suspended from this blog for comparing one TSA supporter to the Nazi’s. Although I would think that, now that the actual owner of the blog has officially compared the TSA to Nazi Germany, the rest of us now have a free pass to do so as well.

        Of course the Mods may not agree… 😉

        1. The goose and the gander have struggled for equality here for a long time. Don’t necessarily assume that the goose is free to mimic the gander.

    2. A little bird told me that LeeAnne has now been banned from this blog for making this comment. I hope I am incorrect or misinformed.

      If this is correct, then I have a question for Chris. Why are people being banned for repeating and agreeing with the same thing you have just said in your blog? Why are you allowing that to happen?

      After the brouhaha that happened a few weeks ago, you assured us that things would be different, that we were starting over from a new point. You assured us that you had listened to the complaints and that you were trying to make things fair.

      Looks like it’s the same old same old.

      I sincerely hope I am wrong. I will gladly eat my words if I am.

      1. Daisemae, you were accurately informed. Fortunately, I contacted Christopher directly, and he restored my posting rights. Turns out it was one of the Mods.

        Seems the inmates are running the asylum over here.

        I want to say that I respect Christopher’s efforts to keep his comments section free of offensive posts. But it seems some of his mods are using this power as their personal fiefdom, silencing people with whom they disagree.

        I also respect Christopher’s desire to have diversity among his moderators…but it would appear to me that at least one of them is so strongly pro-TSA that he actually bans people who agree with Christopher, without Christopher’s knowledge or permission! While I respect the attempt at diversity, seems to me that having vehemently pro-TSA moderators here would be like John Stewart allowing Rush Limbaugh to moderate his blog!

        I’m happy that Christopher resolved the situation. But I’m sad it happened to begin with.

        1. One can only hope there’s some kind of logging mechanism so Christopher knows who was responsible, and that ALL of their activity with this site is checked so that they can no longer practice their own little brand of censorship.

          1. cjr001, the heavy-handed, authoritarian, out-of-control moderation of his blog has been brought to Christopher’s attention many times, by many people, including his own peers. And yet…they continue. We can only hope that this latest episode will open his eyes to what’s really been going on in here. For months. I chose to just stay away for a long time because I no longer felt welcome here. (Which was pretty ironic, since the vast majority of my posts were directly in support of Christopher’s own positions!) But the moderators running the show here are clearly still running roughshod over his strongest supporters. We all hope that Christopher finally sees the light and takes some action here.

        2. I know how you feel. I too was fingered out by an overly zealot mod and banned from posting. Chris stepped in an reversed it and pointed out that a mod was not supposed to do that without consulting and having agreement among the other mods. Wonder if they did all agree?

          1. I haven’t been banned…yet…but several of my posts were deleted when not one of them violated any of Chris’ rules. Not one.

            I stayed away for a while also. I mean, what is the point of posting if some hidden person with an agenda can arbitrarily delete your post? It’s like he/she can erase you.

            We all know the rules. It is Chris’ right to set whatever rules he desires. But what about posts that are being deleted that clearly don’t violate any of those rules? Why is that being tolerated?

          2. I’ll tell you why. It’s because Christopher, in an admirable effort to be fair, chose moderators who have a wide variety of views – including some that are radically different from his (i.e. some mods are vehemently pro-TSA). The problem is, these pro-TSA mods have used this little bit of power to control the conversations in here, deleting comments that they don’t agree with, and banning people who they know are TSA critics.

            Now, they would loudly claim that they were only trying to enforce the rules! But the reality is, the rules they are applying differ depending on what side of the TSA issue you fall.

            When I got banned, they told me it was because I made a “personal attack”. However, let’s look at this so-called attack: I told someone that he was “cut from the same cloth as the Taliban” because he considers the possibility of arrest to be a reasonable expectation of “exercising free speech”. I didn’t call him a name. I didn’t insult his intelligence, or his mental stability. I simply pointed out that the view he holds was startlingly aligned with the Taliban’s own views on freedom of speech.

            (Just for context: This was in a discussion in which he was claiming that if we verbally object to having our genitals touched at the airport and get arrested, such arrests do not actually infringe on our constitutional right to free speech because getting arrested is a reasonable expectation of exercising free speech! Which kinda defeats the whole meaning behind “free”, doesn’t it? But whatev…)

            Anyway, I was told that comparing this viewpoint to the Taliban was a “personal attack.” How comparing someone to a religious organization is a personal attack is beyond me…I mean, is it also an attack to say “you’re cut from the same cloth as the Presbyterians”? Or even “the Westboro Baptist Church?” If someone started throwing out vehemently homophobic stuff in here, that would be a valid comparison, would it not? But I compared some guy to the Taliban, and was banned…for a month! That was three months ago. I didn’t bother coming back until yesterday.

            Meanwhile, the pro-TSA crowd is in here tossing out insults like “loony.” TSA critics in here have been called liars, hysterical mental cases, and far worse. But these comments don’t get deleted, and the commenters don’t get banned. We’ve all seen it.

            As I said before, I think Christopher’s efforts to be fair and balanced are admirable. But IMO, he’s gone too far by allowing those who vehemently disagree with him to control the conversation in his blog. I just don’t see the point in allowing your critics to control your own blog! That makes no sense. What he needs are moderators who do not have an agenda, and are able to apply the rules of moderation equally, regardless of which side of the issue the commenter is on.

            But then, it sure is hard to find good help these days. Especially for free! 😉 So I empathize with his situation. All of his moderators are volunteers. Some of them, I’m sure, are trying to be fair. But I think it’s pretty obvious that at least a couple of them volunteered not to help Christopher, but to wield their little bit of power to further their own views, and silence those who disagree with them.

            One last comment: I actually don’t disagree with Christopher that the “loony:” thread should be left up. I think the comments below DY2 are pretty illuminating…not to mention entertaining! He got smacked down but good, and very publicly, for his rude insult. And he deserved it. Leave it all for everyone to see.

      2. It is patently clear that you can:

        a). Call an entire group a people “loonies” and then churlishly exclaim, “But I was talking about Canadian coins! Y so mad?”
        b). Be considered offensive for using ALL CAPS!!!!!!!!!! ALL CAPS YO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        c). And even be outright racist.

        All of the above is not only tolerated, but celebrated by the mods on this blog.

        But Heavens me, use accurate colloquial terms to describe precisely WHAT the TSA is doing to our bodies at checkpoints, or actually agree with the content of an article, and that, my friends, get you banned by a trigger happy pro-TSA loonie.

        What an effing joke this place has become.

        There’s a reason people in the travel industry don’t take Chris seriously. And this is precisely why.

        1. Why do you think I used the unbelievably juvenile term “vajayjay” to describe the part of my body that a TSA clerk penetrated with her thumb, in another comment in this thread? Because I was actually told, by Christopher himself, that using the accurate term (which also begins with a ‘v’) for that part of my body made the mods “uncomfortable” and got my entire post poofed. This was one of the reasons I stopped reading this blog altogether for several months.

          Of course we all know the REAL reason the mods poofed my post was because it was critical of the TSA.

          Meanwhile the TSA supporters can insult and demean us to their heart’s content. Because, y’know, the mods agree with them!

          The saddest part of this is that Christopher really has his heart in the right place. He just picked the wrong people. I hope he can now see this.

          1. I guess that’s why my comment that used the term s3xyule predator got deleted too.

            Looks like we’re back in the Victorian age. It doesn’t matter that people (TSA) are doing it. You just can’t say it out loud (or in print).

            BTW, if the mods are so offended by your use of the word ******, why aren’t they more offended by what TSA actually did to your *******?

  5. Am I afraid of the TSA? Fear might be a bit too strong, but I chose “Yes” in the poll because choosing “No” would have been blatantly false. I travel frequently for my job and I definitely operate under the “don’t p&$$ them off” rule. If I can’t travel, I can’t do my job properly…. and then my company and I would have to answer to a different government agency which, for businesses and people in my field, is frightening (and this one really should be to a degree). So, I choose to not upset the TSA. But I am very aware just how ridiculous the 3oz rule is, as well as making everyone remove their shoes and such.

    1. Hmm.. changing behavior to appease a group based on perceived threats? Sounds like terrorism to me. Indeed TSA is the largest, well-funded terrorist organization in the whole history of the world.

  6. Since it is not my country, I am not afraid of them, but on the other hand, I have decided that as much as I enjoy the US as a country to holiday in, my vacation money now goes elsewhere.

    I subjected myself a few times to the TSA nightmare and have decided that no holiday, no matter how nice, is worth the hassle they put you through.

    The crazy thing is that I just returned from the UK, where there was the normal screening and the staff were polite and nice. So, that shows that it can be done differently without compromising security!

    1. In the 80’s as an Australian I did 5 years service with the USAF and after that travelled to the US many times but after my wife and I suffered at the hands of your TSA in 2004 we’ve not been back and we never will. Like Bettina our holiday money goes elsewhere. I don’t know about other countries but we have two levels of screening here in Australian international airports. One for travel to the US and one for any other country in the world. It appears the TSA germ may have gained a hold down under.

  7. I voted that I am afraid of the TSA . . . but . . . that does not mean it stops me from flying or speaking my mind. I’m an activist from way back who has done civil disobedience and direct action in defense of our environment and have been arrested and jailed multiple times for that . . . so I’m not scared of what they can do to me. I say afraid because that was the only choice you gave us. If anything they CONCERN me or WORRY me tremendously and for all the reasons you cite in your post. And you can quote me if you like.

  8. I enter the subway at that stop daily. I have never seen TSA agents at the entrances. I have seen fully armed, unformed officers performing bag checks. I’m curious if this is the same location as the OP noted or which entrance it would have been. Also, I remember these checks and uniformed officers only appearing after the bombings in Boston. On the flip side, I have seen a number of undercover officers participating in police activity around the station too. I might have missed the TSA agents but I’m confidant I didn’t.

    1. Stereoknob, the TSA’s VIPR teams have been “randomly” searching people in the NYC subway and in Boston and at other public transportation hubs around the country since 2005.

    2. I have seen them several times at the 7th street entrance to Penn Station. They set up at the bottom of the escalators and grab people at random. I was subject to a bag search and pat down. Fortunately it was a non-enhanced pat down.

      1. Could you leave and walk around to the 8th Avenue entrance?

        How about Port Authority bus terminal? Has anybody ever seen TSA over there? There are lots of ways in and out over there if the Vipers raise their ugly heads.

        1. Not sure if I could leave once they stopped me. I didn’t try. I would imagine someone could just turn around before they were stopped.

    3. I haven’t seen TSA’s VIPR operation in the subway, but such an operation would appear to be of questionable legitimacy. The Second Circuit did find that the program of the New York City police department to inspect containers was constitutional in the case MacWade v. Kelly, 460 F.3d 260 (2d Cir. 2006) (available at http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-2nd-circuit/1252582.html). But that program was circumscribed by a number of limitations, such as only searching of containers capable of concealing explosives. Thus, a program involving the patting down of potential passengers might have to satisfy the Terry criteria to be legitimate (something which would seem to be difficult to do, since a Terry search is conducted to safeguard a police officer conducting an investigation). In other words, if TSA limited themselves to what the New York City police department has been doing (and assuming as well that the New York City Transit Authority consents to the TSA conducting such operations), then the TSA’s operations are probably O.K.. But if the TSA goes beyond what has been approved for the New York City police department, and starts to institute airport-style inspections (e.g., pat downs), or, as TSA has done at airports, refuse to allow potential subway passengers to avoid inspection by walking away, then such program may well be illegitimate.

      1. TSA never allows a little thing like legitimacy or legality hinder them in performing whatever actions they desire. The routinely thumb their noses at Congress, the courts, the constitution, and the law.

      2. LFH0, everything you say is correct. But that hasn’t stopped the TSA/VIPR from violating the law anyway. VIPR’s activities are legally questionable, as this memo (link below) from an anonymous Department of Homeland Security lawyer points out. Not everyone, such as that DHS lawyer and lawyer John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, is so sanguine about VIPR’s reach:

  9. I opted out of the body scanner at Regan National last week. A big hassle to be sure which took an extra 15 minutes. Security theater at its best. I understand explosive screening but the gel 3.2 ounce restriction and reasonably sized knife restrictions are ridiculous. Reinforced cockpit doors eliminate 99% of the in-cabin risk and baggage screening eliminates the explosive risks.

  10. I flew out of DIA 10 days ago. Most of the security lines were forced to go through the “hands against the wall” style body scanners. Except, one line wasn’t; it was just going through the regular ol’ metal detectors. Guess which line I was able to easily choose? And people still believe that this theater will stop a terrorist?

    Fear of the “no fly” list
    People have a right to be afraid of the threat of the no fly list: a couple of years ago a journalist who questioned TSA found himself getting “extra security” for awhile whenever he went to fly as a result.

    Questioning your patriotism
    It may not be TSA he’s worried about in questioning his patriotism, but online by others. After all, I’ve had my patriotism questioned on this very blog some months ago when conversation drifted toward the budget of the DoD. It became a very easy thing to point to in the hysteria after 9/11, and it hasn’t gone away.

    And people are continually labeled as whiners and worse for speaking out against TSA on this blog by a select group of TSA-defending commenters. Think about that: there are people out there that want you to do whatever the government says, and you better not speak otherwise, simply because they’re the government.

      1. Oh, but the irony!

        So if people, including TSA clerks, are using their credentials to help family bypass TSA screening, what does that tell you of TSA screening? Maybe that they, like us, don’t like it.

        Who woulda thunk?

    1. A true patriot speaks out against inappropriate actions made by the government. Its not only our right, its our duty! The government does many good things, and many bad things, and we the people need to point out the bad by writing our reps, voting, and even talking to our reps in person.

      Although, with all the high powered rich lobbyists in the mix, it sort of defeats everything I just said. But that’s a whole other issue.

      1. The salvation of the State is watchfulness in the citizen” – Hartley Burr Alexander, native Nebraskan philosopher. That motto is chiseled into the Nebraska State Capitol, right over the front doors.

  11. As a Canadian flying in the U.S. is a harrowing experience at best. Between the airlines making your life a terrible experience, from trying to find the net cost of a trip, rude & tired stewardesses on board, lost or damaged luggage, cramped seating & then the GREAT TSA experience.
    Did any of these agents get past grade 2? Are they trained on rudeness? When going through screening 1/2 are not paying attention to stuff going through the machine, others are joking amongst themselves & as a 75 yr. old looking which way to go next JUST PLAIN RUDE, if they reply at all!
    Travelling by car through to the U.S. is a mostly pleasant experience with almost every experience with border guards there a pleasant one. Get these people to train TSA – one can be very efficient without being rude!

  12. Several times I have observed a TSA agent smoking underground in Philly at the 8th and Market SEPTA station. When I pointed to the sign and asked her to stop, she said first that the sign was for something else. Then she said everyone does it! I tweeted the mayor, SEPTA, and TSA today with a photo. So no, I am not afraid of the TSA.

    I also ask a lot of questions when I go through security. One time the Southwest terminal at FLL was shut down because someone picked up a bag that hadn’t been screened yet. No one could leave who had just gotten off flights, everyone in line at security was frozen and TSA was reviewing footage. Took over half hour. One agent who was blocking us leaving told me I couldn’t take photos of what was going on. Then another agent who took over his post said that guy didn’t know what he was talking about and that many agents don’t know all the rules. I snapped away!

  13. I voted “yes.”

    I’m both afraid of being on a no fly list and angry that TSA has evolved into an intimidating organization.

    I don’t feel that way about the police in general. I know my constitutional rights. But a secret list that is not

    publically available, to which an appeal is, either not possible or tortous is un-American and scary.

  14. Fortunately, we don’t HAVE to fly. We cancelled a cruise originating in Barcelona because of the TSA. I’ve had stuff stolen that was inadvertently left in a bag, and it’s a shame we’re more wary of the TSA than we are of nameless terrorists. Add in the ridiculous fees the airlines are extracting from us and all the restrictions… who wants to put up with that if there’s a choice? We moved our cruise to leave from Fort Lauderdale. We’ll drive there, We can take as much as we want and there’s no airfare. If we could hit the travel industry hard enough, who knows? Maybe they’d help.

  15. I am not of the TSA per se but what makes me upset is the constant retaliation if you disagree with them. Transiting a checkpoint 3 years ago in Denver, I called the agency a bunch of idiots (not to the person questioning an item they found). That prompted a visit by the checkpoint LE who took me aside and said I couldn’t criticize the agents.

    Another instance, back when the TSA started rolling out the scanners around Thanksgiviing 2010 and there was a call for National Opt Out Day and some protests at airports, I went to Denver just to check out what was happening. I started making notes on how many people used the scanners vs WMTD. Apparently that caught the attention of the TSA and they started asking me questions, “what are you doing here?, what notes are you making”, etc. The police came over and asked for my ID. Apparently they made a report and told me to leave the airport. I asked them what was going to happen to the report. Their reply: “You have to ask the FBI.” i have only flown once since then so I can only assume I am not on a no-fly list. I am flying this Friday and will be opting out of any scanner.

  16. Of course I am afraid of them! I have to fly for work and I have an elderly parent in another state that I have to get to and I need access to air travel. I have cut my travel down as low as I can to still do my job due to the hassles of the TSA and keep my head down during the screening process. I DO opt out of going into the machines – I just cannot expose myself to additional radiation due to health issues. I feel anger every time I enter an airport and a totally pissed off about it. It’s one of the reasons that I plan to retire earlier than I would have.

  17. I am not afraid of the TSA, I just hate the blind perpetuity
    of what they do. What I am afraid of is everyone else’s fear, as you have
    alluded to. I am always surprised when I say that we don’t need the TSA and
    people who I consider very freedom-focused suddenly cow and ask me if I would
    rather be blown up on a plane by a terrorist. Honestly, if it would keep the
    USA from becoming a totalitarian state, then yes, I’d rather be on a plane with
    a terrorist. I know. So shocking. And from an economic point of view, the
    airline industry should take heed. I cannot be the only one that has curbed
    travel plans because I just don’t want to entertain the TSA. (I have stood
    there before, eager to get to my gate while some creepy TSA agent who I
    wouldn’t even shake hands with in a normal social situation, went through every
    item of my check on bag, opening every tiny face cream jar, opening my tooth
    brush case, and riffling through my clothes. I’d rather just stay home.)

    1. I agree with you I would rather take the risk of being blown up than go through the scanner or enhanced pat down. Or have the vipr teams out some of which have x-ray type technology that can scan through vehicles.

    2. We have also stopped flying because of TSA. Not only are the airlines losing our money, but the hotels, car rental agencies, restaurants, tourist attractions, and shops. Multiply that times many thousands of other people and we can get a glimpse of what TSA has cost this country.

      Oh, and throw in that little $8 billion per year budget that TSA is sucking out of us too. Is security theatre really worth this price tag?

  18. Yes, the TSA scares me. But what scares me even more are the millions of Americans who actually believe they are “keeping us safe”. Without them, the TSA would have been run out on a rail years ago. But with so many deluded Americans willingly subjecting themselves to this abuse, and believing that it’s actually having some sort of positive impact, the TSA will persist.

    As for patriotism, the only people whose patriotism I question are those who silently submit. That is about as un-American as I can imagine.

    1. I come from a long line of patriots. Eight of my ancestors were Jamestowne settlers. Thirteen of my ancestors fought against the British in 1776. My ancestors have fought for our rights and freedoms in every American war down to my father in WWII.

      Their daughter will continue to fight for our rights and freedoms just as they did. I will oppose TSA to my dying breath. I will speak out against it every chance I get.

      Am I afraid of TSA? Absolutely! I am terrified of what they can do to me or my disabled husband or my grandchildren or any other innocent American. I am terrified of the blitzkrieg expansion of power that is being accumulated by TSA, DHS, and the rest of the federal government and the absolute lack of accountability for any abusive or oppressive action they may take.

  19. Flew from MCO to Atl yesterday. The security line I was in as out of bins to put our “stuff” in so the woman in front of me reached over and pulled another rack of bins to us. Mr. TSA agent came over and demanded to know who moved the bins. The woman timidly raised her hand and said she did. She then got scolded and told that she is not to touch the bins, that Mr. TSA agent would bring them to us and that the bins she touched were for the other lane that they we about to open. BS! Yes, they needed to open another lane but did they? No. Mr. TSA agent was just being macho and really made himself look ridiculous. But, did anybody stand up for the woman? No. We were all too worried about being sent to the back of the line or worse so, like little sheep, we just bitched with each other about how stupid the TSA is and finished going through the screening nonsense. Makes me just as furious today writing about it as I was yesterday being a witness to it.

    1. And this, folks, is emblematic of the type of person the TSA hires. They are uneducated, ill-trained, otherwise unemployable low-wage workers who, for the first time in their lives, have actual power over others. Which they wield like demented jackhammers. Because they can. Because we let them. Because the government spends 8 BILLION dollars of our tax money a year giving them the authority to yell at us for using the wrong sized baggie, or putting our shoes on top of our laptop, or flinching when they shove their thumbs up our vajayjays in their utterly absurd attempts to find bombs in our panties.

  20. I fail to see what this is all about. You set up a proposition that people are afraid to complain about the TSA. You interview one person. Then you say, “You’d probably be surprised by how many readers come to me with their TSA stories, only to insist on anonymity.”

    OK. But then the column gets into generalizations. “Travelers are afraid that if they speak up, the TSA will add them to the “a list.” They’re not exactly sure which list their names will go on, but they’re pretty sure it will keep them from boarding their next flight.” What authority said that? Or is it based on the “how many readers” come to you, a known outspoken critic of the TSA and its foibles?

    OK, the proposition has been set up in a faulty manner. In a completely unscientific way you have determined that travelers in general (we are talking about tens of millions, folks) are afraid of complaining about the TSA lest they end up on a list.

    Now let’s take a poll of the readers of Christopher Elliott to see if these unknown readers are afraid of the TSA. What does this prove? You have no evidence that these respondents have even flown commercial aircraft. You don’t know the frequency, and the last time they went through a TSA line. You simply ask for an opinion of fear based on perceptions formed in general. There is no evidence whatsoever in this column and poll that anyone has been placed on a list because of complaining. But they have this fear.

    Maybe this fear is because of columns like this where it is highly publicized that a fear of being placed on a list is a rational thought, even if unproven and untrue.

    1. So…let me get this straight. You are suggesting that it’s entirely possible that a large percentage of the readers of Christopher Elliott’s blog…y’know, the people who would be responding to his poll…may not even have ever been on an aircraft, or gone through a TSA line? As in…they are reading a blog specifically for frequent travelers…but they aren’t travelers? Really?

      Interesting assumption.

      As for Christopher’s summarizing what he’s heard from his readers…let’s remember that this is a travel blog. I think one can reasonably assume that his readers are, like, travelers. Who might have valid opinions about one of the most challenging aspects of travel, the TSA. Seems to me their “perceptions formed in general,” which they have reported to Christopher en mass, would be a valid premise on which to base an article.

      I personally don’t feel I need to know the names of everyone who has reported their general perceptions about the TSA to him. Just read the comments below. Pretty much says it all.

      1. Some people believe in science. Even in scientific polls with error rates in the single digits. Some people do not make assumptions from their own sense of logic.

        Others develop a “sphere of influence.” Basically, people are surrounded by like minds. So when you ask people of like minds if you share the common fears and paranoia about the TSA, what answer do you expect?

        Example: Mitt Romney had all his polls telling him he was going to win, while virtually every independent poll called it for the victor. His advisers were preparing victory speeches. One even said the actual vote counts were wrong in Ohio. In fact, the independent and scientifically prepared polls were mostly right. Mitt’s people were deluded by talking amongst themselves, rather that with the reality of a broad cross section of those who were going to vote.

        You do not need to know the names of every voter to know accurate results. You do not need to count them one by one to determine if the broad generalization of “Travelers are afraid that if they speak up, the TSA will add them to the ‘a list,’ ” is true. But you do have to have some semblance of systematically and scientifically obtained poll numbers to allow us to believe such a sweeping assertion. Anecdotes from Christopher’s fans just don’t cut it.

          1. You are. He set up the proposition that people will not complain because of fear. That is an assumption based on no impartial gathering of facts, just contacts with a certain group of malcontents.

            With that false proposition he can go to Congress, the press, and anyone who will listen that the reason there is no picketing of TSA checkpoints, no mass demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of people on the Mall in DC, no letter-writing campaign in massive numbers such as gun safety is that people are fearful.

            Set up a phony proposition without factual basis, and then you can assert you do not hear the massive protests because of fear.

            Plain, unvarnished hogwash.

          2. Do you even read what you write?

            You went on and on some long-winded tirade about science and about how people like you love facts and science.

            And then you became all, “Oh, my stars! I wasn’t demanding a scientific poll. Why, Heavens to Betsy you brought it up!”

            I mean, seriously, your straw men are pretty lame in general, but this one takes the cake.

        1. Hmmm…so you seem to be under the impression that Christopher is using his polls to generate some scientifically sound data? Really? Even though he has repeatedly stated in this blog that he is NOT attempting to run any kind of scientific poll? Even though he’s openly stated that the purpose of his polls is not to generate scientific data, but to inspire discussion?

          Methinks you are expecting too much of an informal poll on a travel blog. Elliott.org is not even remotely comparable to, say, Gallup.

          Who exactly are you expecting to respond to his polls, if not his readers? And who do you expect to be among his readers, if not people who, in general, agree with him?

          I’m sure Christopher is flattered that you are expecting his sphere of influence to be such that, if he worded things differently, he could count himself among the great scientific pollers like Gallup and Gallaxy. But I think your expectations are just a leeeetle bit unreasonable.

    2. Look, it’s abundantly clear that you like to get fondled. We get it. Why else do you come here time after time insisting that it’s OK?

      Why then set up this elaborate BS straw man?

      Just say it, man, you like it when an obese martinet in blue fondles you. It’s OK.

      1. Okay now THAT’S just funny!

        Especially since the last time I got fondled, it was by a blue-suited TSA clerk who collectively made up 3 of me. And I’m not a tiny woman. Which made the thumb-up-the-vajayjay part particularly unpleasant, given the girth of the thumb. (I guess when you get to such lofty poundages, it inevitably impacts even your smallest appendages.)

        This is yet more irrefutable evidence that the TSA is about as far away from an actual law enforcement agency as you can get. Can you think of a single LEA that actually allows such physically unfit officers?

        It just dawned on me what government agency the TSA is really most comparable to: the DMV! I could easily see my latest rotund TSA screener sitting behind the desk at my local DMV, snapping unsmiling photos of teenagers getting their first drivers licenses. Seems to me that job would be far more aligned with her skills anyway.

        1. Well, IDK about that. In my state the DMV is run by the Po-LICE! Definitely don’t see any TSAtards working there. Though they are the most miserable SoBs you’ll ever meet. Even worse than TSA. That is no lie.

      2. Chris says this column is fun. I say any column about the TSA brings out people that in any other blog would be banned permanently. TSAisTerrorism you are a sick man. When you cannot argue facts, you display your secret most innermost perverted thoughts. There are countless examples of people who loudly call others the names which really apply to themselves. It’s called hiding in the closet. Keep hiding TSAisTerrorism.

        1. Given that he’s a journalist, I don’t think “fun” is Christopher’s primary goal. I would think that disseminating useful information, reporting on important current events in the world of travel, and inspiring discussion would be a little higher on the list. Which his TSA articles certainly do. So I say, mission accomplished. Well done Christopher!

          1. You are assuming he is a journalist. I do not. In J schools, a search for the truth, no matter where it leads, is emphasized, not a continuing diatribe to prove one’s preconceived conclusion. That is generally known as propagandizing.

            I know of no search for truth in this column about the concept of security in preventing terrorism. For example, he continually says that since one method or another has never been successful, it is not a threat. More than once he has ridiculed taking off shoes because a shoe bomb has never been successful. When does the columnist come out and remind everyone that the very act of terrorism is killing innocent people, usually in very unexpected ways. That’s why so many innocents die. The methods are unexpected and the threatened are unprepared.

            But please do not carry my reasoning above to the extreme and ridiculous. I use the shoe bomb example because it was actually attempted, having been on terrorist’s minds. Proven creative thinking by terrorists if you will. I have not read of all the creativity in the Inspire Magazine published by those who wish to destroy this country and any innocents present at the time.

            This column and comment section is not discussion. This is name calling by those who believe the TSA since 2001 has been motivated by human disrespect and sexual perversion.

          2. >>” I use the shoe bomb example because it was actually attempted, having been on terrorist’s minds.”

            And completely unworkable. It’s pretty clear you like going through the TSA line just to, well get whatever the TSA is dishing out there.

            And I, for one, don’t think the TSA is motivated by sexual perversion. I believe, in fact I know, that the people running the TSA are utter morons. That’s why they end up doing things like sexual perversion and then feigning surprise that people notice it. It’s because they don’t have a clue.

          3. Name-calling…you mean, like, “loonies”?

            (Sorry, couldn’t resist!) 😉

            The rest is just so lacking in basic logic that I will simply leave it untouched in all its glory. Have a great flight!

          4. Since when did someone declare you a journalist? I would like to see your credentials, including organizational memberships, degrees and career history with fact-gathering organizations. Honest-to-goodness journalists, by the way, do not refer to any current activities with regards to Nazi Germany. Comparisons with Nazi Germany universally get condemned by credentialed journalists as being extreme and demeaning to those who suffered and died.

            Bloggers who willy nilly compare life in the 2000s to Nazi Germany are not journalists and never will be.

          5. SBS, I’m guessing that LeeAnne isn’t saying that she’s a journalist but that Chris is. I think that’s a misplaced modifier in her sentence: ‘As a journalist, I don’t think “fun” is Christopher’s primary goal.’ Anyway, just a hunch.

          6. BING BING BING! Lisa hit the nail on the head. Clearly I ain’t no journalist, given my poor grammar here! 😉

            I was trying to point out that Christopher, as a journalist, is likely not shooting for “fun” in his TSA columns.

            I fixed my misplaced modifier. And thanks for reminding me what the term “misplaced modifier” means. Been too long since I was in Miss Lebow’s English class, wherein she taught me how to correctly diagram a sentence. Looks like I need remedial training. 😉

          7. Don’t worry. When you go back to Miss Lebow’s class for remedial training, you’ll have plenty of company. Sparky will be right there beside you.

            I always laugh myself silly when he criticizes anyone else for grammar, punctuation, etc. when his own posts cry out for the heavy application of Miss Lebow’s red pencil.

          8. Funny how you and I instantly understood that LeeAnne was referring to Chris rather than herself. Wonder why Sparky couldn’t understand that? Hmmmmm.

          9. SoBeSparky: “Honest-to-goodness journalists, by the way, do not refer to any current activities with regards to Nazi Germany.”

            Chris Elliott: “Think it’ll never happen in the Land of the Free? I hope you’re right. But I suspect there were thousands of dissidents and intellectuals who said to themselves, “It’ll never happen in my Germany” or “in my Russia.” But it did.”

            Okay. So by your definition, Chris used the Germany comparison so he must not be an honest-to-goodness journalist. Thanks for pointing that out to us.

          10. My definition? No, I am referencing to things I have read and especially heard during serious discussions on “On the Media” and “Reliable Sources” among others where right, left and center journalists discuss things like ethics, impartiality and news commentators’ on-air comparisons to Hitler’s Germany. These revolving panels of noted journalists critique their own fellow journalists, and any recent comparisons to Nazi Germany by politicians, entertainer/commentators, and such are dealt with harshly.

            I referenced LeeAnneClark’s comment: “I’m sure you would have said the same thing to the Jews in pre-WWII, when the Nazi party was slowly but surely, in drips and drabs, taking away their freedoms.”

            Alert to LeeAnneClark: Ask any Jewish person about comparing the TSA to storm troopers. Discussing the TSA in the context of Nazi Germany is totally and unequivocally inappropriate.

            Why you ask? Now I will give you my unvarnished opinion which you can attack freely.

            Hitler, the Nazi Party and the storm troopers reached such a level of revulsion and evil, that to make these common comparisons, popular nowadays, diminishes the absolute and utter horror of Nazi Germany. It trivializes it. It makes it a common comparison in life as we know it in the 21st Century. There is no comparison to the heinous activities in Nazi Germany.

            Loss of freedoms in drips and drabs is a famous argument. Our independent judiciary decides these freedoms tempered with order. To make any comparison of the TSA and DHS activities to Nazi Germany in any sense utterly disrespects those who went through the horror, anguish, hate and evil.

            TSA a valid comparison to storm troopers? Never. If you must make this analogy then far better to make a comparison to a different totalitarian state without the horrors of Nazi Germany. Don’t trivialize Hitler’s Nazi Germany.

          11. And you know I’m not Jewish…how? And you somehow know that I’m not MARRIED to a Jewish person…or live in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, or that I’ve not already had this conversation with my many Jewish friends…how?

            As for levels of revulsion, I daresay my reaction at being forced to allow an obese cow to ram her thumb up between my legs qualifies. And my point (which may have been beyond your ken) was that the destruction of freedom started out small. Drips and drabs. It took time, conditioning, and a general numbness of the community to what was going on around them for the horrors to get to the point where it did. We’re not there yet, fortunately…but we see it marching down that path. We’d be stupid NOT to bring up the comparisons.

            Trust me, the general oppression that we are seeing from the TSA is not trivial. Nobody is trivializing what happened in WWII. Nor are we willing to trivialize what’s happening now.

          12. Okay. By the definition you quoted and must agree with because you used it to try to prove someone wasn’t a journalist. End results is the same. You are saying Chris isn’t an Honest-to-goodness Journalist.

          13. SBS, I think you’re forgetting that before the Nazis reached “such a level of revulsion and evil” they were ordinary party apparatchiks. Every incrementally awful thing the Nazis did was legal. They passed laws ahead of time making their assaults on civil liberties legal. That’s the comparison. (Oh, and by the way, analogy isn’t equivalence.)

            A police state doesn’t have to — and in fact rarely does — spring fully formed like Athena from the head of Zeus. It can develop step by tiny step, as one right, then another, then another, then another, is taken away. Until one day, you wake up and there it is: all your rights are gone. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to their erosion before things get that bad. Because if you do wake up in a full-blown police state, by then it’s too late.

            As you know, I’ve quoted Nuremberg chief prosecutor Robert H. Jackson here before. I think maybe he knew a thing or two about the Nazis: “Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government. Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual, and putting terror in every heart.”

          14. Perhaps you did not read my sentence, “Our independent judiciary decides these freedoms tempered with order.” I am not going to recount all this history, and of course Justice Jackson would object himself to making one sentence as the summation of the rise of Nazi Germany.

            In 1933 Hitler began to dismantle the independent judiciary and the next year he created a dual justice system. In 1933 he purged all Jews and other political opponents from the judiciary. By 1934 the courts were completely corrupted. What the Nazi party wanted to affirm as law it did. Any Jew or political prisoner so chosen was convicted and executed. This is 1933. This is not drips and drabs. In 1933 Hitler took control of virtually everything or laid the foundation for same. People today read bits of history and think of drips and drabs and search and seizure and are told the taking away of guns was the beginning, the sign that tyranny would come. Not true. The Nazi party seized most of the governmental apparatus (including most courts) in 1933 and completed it the following year.

            This was not the frog put in cold water and then slowly boiled to death gradually, in drips and drabs fashion, the slow eroding of rights. There is a reason history says Hitler “seized” power, as he had the Nazis control all branches of government uniformly. Rather than drips and drabs, it was a tsunami of record proportions in 1933. No right was the “first” to go, whether it be religion, search and seizure or interpretation of the law by an independent judiciary. Historic facts deserve context.

          15. SBS, I wasn’t trying to sum up Nazi Germany in one sentence. This is a blog, after all, and we can’t spend metaphorical pages and pages going over history. Yes, Hitler’s actions in 1933 were, as you put it, a tsunami. But he didn’t just suddenly appear in 1933. He wrote Mein Kampf in 1925. He rose to power. There were ample warning signs ahead of time.

          16. Lisa, this discussion is not about signs or Mein Kampf.

            This discussion is about people drawing an analogy of the TSA and DHS with Hitler’s Germany. Taking away the right to carry suspicious objects for voluntary travel on airliners or trains is the beginning of the erosion of rights, just like in Nazi Germany. Searching everyone, invading their privacy, is “just the beginning,” these people say. For several reasons, I repeat my prior ending, “Hogwash.”

          17. “Lisa, this discussion is not about signs or Mein Kampf.”

            Ah. I was taking a cue from your several-paragraph history lesson. Sorry. My mistake.

          18. Only to demonstrate that the loss of rights were not one at a time. Drips and drabs. Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure came first…blah blah blah. Simply not true.

          19. You’re right. Freedom from unreasonable search was never lost. They never had it in the first place.

          20. “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

            “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it” -Winston Churchill

          21. Absolutely true. So people should read history, not get the version condensed by others. Incrementalism was not the cause of Hitler taking power and the Holocost. Rights against search and seizure were lost along with loss of most other rights, especially as regards religion and the courts, all virtually at the same time.

          22. You should read the Reichstagsbrandverordnung.

            Easy to make snappy comments, but hard to actually study history.

          23. You mean this one….

            On the basis of Article 48, Section 2, of the German Constitution, the following is decreed as a defensive measure against Communist acts of violence that endanger the state: §1 Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124, and 153 of the Constitution of the German Reich are suspended until further notice. Thus, restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press, on the right of assembly and the right of association, and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic, and telephonic communications, and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property are permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.– “Reichstag Fire Decree,” 28 February 1933

            Where it starts with the restrictions on personal liberty?

          24. What is this bizarre fascination you have with insisting on missing the entire point?

          25. Lisa, thanks for systematically taking down the “Nazi comparisons are inappropriate” argument. You have clearly shown that, in the case of the TSA, not only are they appropriate, they are necessary! If we silently sit by and watch as they chip away at our personal freedoms, we will end up down that path. The very fact that we have to allow perfect strangers to touch our most intimate body parts, forcefully and with open, unchecked aggression, in order to partake in our Constitutional right to travel, is something that would have horrified our nation not all that long ago.

            That’s how the 9/11 terrorists are winning. They have given the government the necessary tools to begin the slow march to oppression. All they gotta do is toss out the word “terrorist” and too many cowed Americans whip off their shoes and spread their legs.

          26. You too are forgetting that Nazis never got a majority of the free public vote. Hindenburg won the 1932 election and amongst political instability he appointed Hitler Cancellor. Another election was called and only with the help of the Catholic Centre Party did Hitler form a coalition government in 1933.

            Don’t talk about incrementalism. The votes took place. Hitler took control as a leader of a coalition and declared himself, yes, instantly, dictator for life. He took over the entire government with the backing of the people.

            There were no ordinary times with Hitler as Chancellor. None. There was no incrementalism in terms of things in our bill of rights. The people of Germany demanded change and got it.

          27. To me, the comparison with the Nazis is not about how Hitler got to power, but what he did after he got there, like the holocaust. Hitler didn’t just get into power and then rounded up all the Jews. First he vilified them in the eyes of the citizenry. Then to protect the country, they needed to be identified by wearing the star of david symbol. After that, seizure of property, restrictions of where they could live, moving into camps, etc. I know I don’t have all the steps that happened, but the idea is that it was done little bits at a time,

          28. Hal, I keep repeating myself to no avail. In 1933, Hitler began to remove all Jews from the judiciary. He completed this the next year. It was not done a bit at a time, unless you consider this a “bit:”

            “Articles 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124 and 153 of the Constitution of the German Reich are suspended until further notice. It is therefore permissible to restrict the rights of personal freedom [habeas corpus], freedom of (opinion) expression, including the freedom of the press, the freedom to organize and assemble, the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications. Warrants for House searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.”

            This decree by the ailing and aged President Hindenburg right after Hitler was appointed chancellor (and about to appoint himself dictator for life) was in 1933, five years before yellow Jewish star badges. All civil liberties were suspended at once. Period. Is that a “bit?”

          29. SBS, did Hitler come in and just order all Jews removed to concentration camps? No. As you said, first he removed them from the judiciary. Then the yellow start. Then the camps. I guess if you look at history with a large enough granularity, then it does look like it was done all at one. However, look at it from year to year and see it was not done all at once. Policies were put in place to allow the follow action to occur. The decree did remove all civil liberties at once. If that was the end of it, then yes, it was done all at once. But it wasn’t. Removing the civil liberties allowed the next step to happen.

          30. This comment section is not about the Jews, per se. Back on topic, it is about civil liberties, and specifically, the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. There was NO gradual erosion of civil liberties in Nazi Germany. There was no drips and drabs or bit-by-bit. The “Reichstagsbrandverordnung” was very clear.

            The discussion about Jewish people entered the conversation because people here want to form comparisons between the TSA/DHS and Hitler Germany. There simply is no comparison. Literally, they are incomparable.

          31. >>”Hal, I keep repeating myself to no avail.”

            It must be a very, very heavy cross you bear to be so damn smart and be surrounded by so many, many amazingly stupid people.

          32. I am not surrounded by people who are stupid, therefore not amazingly so. However, the Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind scientifically conducted poll released yesterday gives a clue as to the mindset of some of the commenters here.

            Twenty-nine per cent of American adults agree that “in the next few years, an armed revolution might be necessary in order to protect our liberties.”

            One fourth of American adults agree that “some people are hiding the truth about the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in order to advance a political agenda.” Those who stopped their formal education at high school graduation had the highest agreement percentages to both questions. College graduates had the highest disagreement percentages to both.

            Of course, the level of formal education attainment has no absolute correlation with intelligence, or in the reverse, stupidity. So 22% of college grads think that armed revolution might be right around the corner, and 16% think unknown parties are hiding the “truth” about the Sandy Hook Tragedy.

            I am waiting to see the polls shortly on the considerable number of people who will believe the Boston Marathon bombing was created by American political operatives to create fear of homeland terrorism.

          33. Here you go again, making outrageous jumps in logic and completely missing the point.

            Look, dude, I don’t know what your angle is because every single time there’s a discussion here, and it’s not just the ones about the TSA, you get all worked up in a froth over something. And then someone responds, and then it’s all, “But you’re missing the point! That’s not what we’re talking about!” and yet it’s precisely the train of discussion you yourself have introduced.

            And then when you’ve got yourself good and worked up in a tizzy over absolutely nothing, you go and post nonsense like this–>

            Well, harumph! the people on these boards think Janet Napolitano wants to march everyone into gas chambers and it’s obvious that some commenters think everything is just some huge government hoax!

            No one brought up Boston but you. No one brought up grand conspiracies but you. To my knowledge the people debating you here don’t think these things. I certainly don’t.

            You don’t believe me, because we’ve discussed this before, but I’m in airline upper management. I interface with TSA management on at least a weekly basis. I don’t think there’s some grand conspiracy to strip people of rights. I’ve consistently, and even in this very discussion, stated that TSA is made up of spectacularly stupid people who have good intentions. The ends do not justify the means. Is there terrorism? Yes. Do people hate us for our freedoms? I’d phrase it differently, but OK let’s start there. Electronically strip searching people, “allowing” them to “voluntarily surrender” “dangerous” items, and sticking hands in pants is the wrong thing to do to combat these problems. Period. End of discussion.

            Is there a grand conspiracy to blow up buildings and bomb people and all sorts of other truly dastardly things so as to turn America into a Hitler fascist police state where we march people into gas chambers? I don’t think so, but certainly other people do. You’ve bought into their nonsense and argue against all reason because of them. Get a grip, dude. People in power aren’t conspiring to take away our freedoms because other people hate us for our freedoms.

            People in power are assaulting and abusing us because they think it’s the right thing to do. And you seem to be perfectly OK with it because you don’t understand why people have a problem with it, and those same people must have some tin foil hat wearing nut streak. Well, go ahead and tell yourself that because you’re wrong. You’re outrageously wrong on every count. But enjoy what’s left of our actual freedoms when the current apparently perceived threats to them go unnoticed by you and your pals because well, gosh, people were just doing their jobs to protect freedom by shoving their hands into other people’s crotches. It’s wrong. The impetus behind it doesn’t matter.

          34. I state some interesting facts, and you draw the conclusions. I never said half the things you say I did, but you read yourself into my stated facts. You draw your conclusions and then write that I said them.

            You set yourself up as some expert, some omniscient mind, which is obvious by your comments you are not.

            You have a total fixation post after post about fondling, crotches, and so forth. You are obsessed by it. If it were worth it, I would count how many dozen times you raise this exact wording. Why are you so obsessed?

            I never have had any such thing done to me. Ever. And I am top tier FF based on BIS miles for six years. That’s flying over 600,000 miles in six years. Really over 700,000. Lots of TSA checks there.

            You apparently get your mental satisfaction by making wild, totally unsubstantiated claims which show the state of your mind. A person who goes through TSA without complaint=person who likes to be sexually fondled. Sick conclusions come from sick minds. I have never had any TSA person make any attempt to touch my sexual organs. Period. But you blather on that it must be so. Obsessive bordering on delusional.

            Based on your raising the issue innumerous times, sexual fondling is apparently always in your consciousness. Sad fixation. Others can apply their own adjectives.

          35. Hmmm…maybe TSAisTerrorism mentions crotch-grabbing so often because…it’s WRONG to grab a stranger’s crotch! In ANY context! It’s one of the most offensive thing that can be done to an innocent person. And you wonder why we bring it up so much? You really don’t get that? Wow. That’s hilarious! I think you pretty much just torpedoed any semblance of credibility left in your arguments.

            Anyone who really cannot see how blatantly wrong it is for government thugs to shove their hands into innocent people’s crotches…well. I’ll just leave it at that.

          36. But golly gee LeeAnne, it doesn’t happen to him, and it’s part of TSA’s gold standard risk based approach. We should be grateful TSA fondles people’s crotches. It’s for your own good, and it doesn’t happen to SBS who is always beyond polite and demurring at the checkpoint.

          37. >>”You set yourself up as some expert, some omniscient mind,”


            I state the same interesting facts you do. You just don’t agree with mine.

          38. This sounds to me like setting yourself up as an expert and then making the the unreserved claim of the TSA being made up “of spectacularly stupid people:”

            “…I’m in airline upper management. I interface with TSA management on at least a weekly basis. I don’t think there’s some grand conspiracy to strip people of rights. I’ve consistently, and even in this very discussion, stated that TSA is made up of spectacularly stupid people who have good intentions. The ends do not justify the means. Is there terrorism? Yes. Do people hate us for our freedoms? I’d phrase it differently, but OK let’s start there. Electronically strip searching people, “allowing” them to “voluntarily surrender” “dangerous” items, and sticking hands in pants is the wrong thing to do to combat these problems. Period. End of discussion. ”

            This sure sounds as if it is intended to be an authority statement of fact, not of opinion. “Period. End of discussion,” you said. I find lots of unsubstantiated opinions and hyperboles there..

          39. Okay, now you’ve gone too far. I am from Newtown. For you to compare TSA critics to the true nutcases who believe whacko conspiracy theories about Sandy Hook is offensive. I have friends who lost children there. Stop.

            You seem to be under the mistaken impression that one must be a right-wing zealot to be against the TSA and its abusive tactics. Not to burst your confusing little bubble, but one must not be a pro-gun, anti-government, militia-lovin’ tin foil hat wearer to be a critic of the TSA. I personally am a political liberal. I am a registered Democrat. I actively fight for gay civil rights. I support enhancing gun controls (especially since my own community was shot up by a nutcase with an automatic weapon).

            And I do NOT support forcing innocent civilians to be sexually assaulted in order to fly.

            So stop comparing TSA critics to anti-government conspiracy theorists. You are barking up the wrong tree. Toss out all the numbers you want – they are meaningless in the context of this discussion.

          40. Once more, LeeAnneClark, you made a huge leap on a comment, creating the comparison you complain about.

            Another reader suggested I thought I was surrounded by stupid people. No, I said. “”However, the Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind scientifically conducted poll released yesterday gives a clue as to the mindset of some of the commenters here.”

            You have interpreted that as my comparing TSA critics to anti-conspiracy theorists. No, I did not do that. You did. I suggested that commenters here are not stupid, but perhaps you can get “a clue” by the results of the survey.

            In other words, translated into other English words, perhaps this poll of the nation as a whole gives us an insight as to the characteristics of the Elliott readers and commenters.

            To say it a third way, perhaps Christopher Elliott readers are fairly representative when compared to the results of a recent survey.

            I never said anything about “right-wing zealots, or pro-gun, anti-government militia-lovin’ tin foil hat wearer.” I was told, “It must be a very, very heavy cross you bear to be so damn smart and be surrounded by so many, many amazingly stupid people.” The sarcasm was dripping, but I responded that I did not believe people here are stupid, contrary to the claim.

            Wow! Once more my words are made to mean something entirely different than the original and two paraphrases above.

          41. >>”You have interpreted that as my comparing TSA critics to anti-conspiracy theorists. No, I did not do that.”

            Then why bring the poll up at all?

            And, as my grandmother always used to say, when you feel this way –>

            “Once more my words are made to mean something entirely different than the original and two paraphrases above.”

            When you look around you and everyone else is a problem, maybe they aren’t the ones who are the problem.

          42. You claimed to all readers, “It must be a very, very heavy cross you bear to be so damn smart and be surrounded by so many, many amazingly stupid people.”

            Out of the blue you attack me as a person with those sarcastic words. Hello?

            I give the readers credit for intelligence. I imply the readers here are are about average. Only you were calling readers names. I suggested they were probably reflecting the attitudes and beliefs of the general public.

            Didn’t your grandmother suggest you debate ideas rather than attack individuals with sarcasm?

            Inevitably this discourse becomes name calling with one party refusing to debate the facts of the other.

            This all started with a rational and reasonable discussion on whether Nazi Germany took away individual rights such the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure incrementally or at once. I was citing facts. The reader countered with denial of what we term our “Bill of Rights” to one group of people in the late 1930s. I noted twice they were removed by edict in 1933, the basis for all further actions against Jews, homosexuals and other “undesirables” such as those with physical or mental disabilities. Nothing incremental about the loss of freedom in Nazi Germany. No drips and drabs, bit-by-bit process. Hitler took absolute control in 1933. There was no learning curve of warnings on an incremental loss of freedom. He had it abolished by edict.

            You come into this discussion and attack me, not the facts. Then continually say I enjoy sexual fondling. Any honest discussion really doesn’t need you to repeatedly go there, attacking me as a person.

            Is this why you make the blanket assessment that “TSA is made up of spectacularly stupid people who have good intentions.” When you cannot counter the entire TSA systematic approach of terror risk assessment of passengers (of which body scans and pat-downs are one step), you declare the TSA employees as a whole stupid. Same old tactic. Call anyone you disagree with a name, rather than address the issues and facts.

          43. This guy has a serious problem. Why don’t y’all just ignore him? You can’t argue any logic with this guy. Anything that you say to him just encourages more of this drivel.

          44. Moi? I ain’t no journalist! From wence did that insane idea spring?

            I’m just yer run-of-the-mill TSA loonie who prefers to CHOOSE who touches my naughty bits, rather than allowing any old large stranger in a tight blue suit waving a tin badge to do so! 😉

          45. Disagree – I don’t think the TSA is *motivated* by human disrespect and sexual perversion. The disrespect and the sexually offensive behavior that TSA demonstrates are a result of overblown and baseless fears. The disrespect and the sexual assaults happen because ignoramuses too heartless to care whom they hurt sat down to cook up completely counterproductive “security” measures.

            When a stranger starts sticking their hands down your pants, is the most important thing really to figure out the attacker’s motivation? Personally, I could care less why this person is grabbing my crotch, I just want it to stop.

          46. You know what they say – the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

            Oh, am I allowed to use such naughty, filthy language in here? I can never tell. Maybe if I changed my handle to “I heart TSA they are awesomest” then it would glide on by.

        2. Who says I’m a man?

          You assume an awful lot.

          And it’s awfully hard to argue facts with people who, like you, come in here and stir up a bunch of nothing and then get all bent out of shape that the conversation takes the turns you yourself introduce.

          1. I look in the mirror all the time. I discuss with facts. Verifiable facts. I try my best to avoid slurring the reputation of people with lines like, “Look, it’s abundantly clear that you like to get fondled.” That is not a joke and beyond all measures of good taste. And that represents how that man thinks, or he would not have written it. How would you like to be accused, without any serious facts, that you like to get fondled? Especially by an obese martinet in blue? Fair? Factual? Or simply sick?

          2. If you don’t like it, why do you so vehemently defend it?

            It’s not what I think, it’s what you write. It’s a verifiable fact.

          3. Huh? You made the perverted comment. It came from the depths of your dirty mind. You have the mind with layers of sexual thoughts and innuendos. as shown by your comments. I merely address your personal slurs.

          4. ROTLMAO! Yes, my dirty, dirty mind with layers and layers of sexual thoughts and innuendos. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

            People at the airport are getting fondled: verifiable fact.

            You vehemently defend the actions in the name of Freedom!: verifiable fact.

            Ergo, you must like whatever the TSA is dishing out to protect your freedom by having obese martinets in blue fondle people of the same gender for Freedom!. It’s not that big of a leap, really.

            It’s not my perverted little sexually laced mind of dirty little boy traps. It’s what you come here week after week defending.

          5. Your delusion: “Look, it’s abundantly clear that you like to get fondled. We get it. Why else do you come here time after time insisting that it’s OK?”

            You cannot cite any such instance, but you belong to the school of thought that repeating a lie over and over and somehow it will rub off as true. Obsessive and delusional.

          6. My source is you.

            You fly a lot.

            You go to the airport.

            You take whatever TSA is dishing out.

            If you don’t like it, why are you doing it so much?

          7. Wow! Another huge leap.

            “You take whatever TSA is dishing out.” Well, I am treated with dignity and courtesy most of the time. Sometimes I am treated brusquely. Maybe they scream at me, “Take everything out of your pockets!” No please, no thank you. They want to know what is in my back pocket. I retrieve a tissue or napkin. Maybe they wand me as a result.

            Yes, I take what they dish out, but it is not, and never has been any abuse of my body. There’s your mammoth leap. It is not a logical leap to assume the TSA molests me, but something obsessive.

            Yes, I like being treated with dignity and courtesy most of the time. No, I do not like brusque, bossy people.

            I have satisfactory experiences. The worst moment perhaps was in Syracuse a few years ago when I got a real lecture, some might say diatribe, about taking my 3-1-1 bag out before the bag goes through the X-ray. Oh wow! Hardly phased me for more than a few minutes of amazement someone was so demonstrative over such an infraction.

    3. Hello, I have a question… would your perspective change:
      1) if Mr. Elliott gave you specific numbers of people that have come to him with stories about how they have been mistreated by the TSA?
      2) if readers on here gave their specific stories?
      3) if there was some company (not tied to the TSA) that reported on the specific numbers of mistreatment by the TSA?

      I am not trying to be combative – just want to understand your point of view a little better.

      1. The interesting thing is, there are plenty of sources for someone to read literally thousands of stories of TSA abuse. There is simply no rational basis for suggesting there aren’t thousands of horrifying traveler stories for Christopher to base his article on, not even counting the many readers who have reported them directly to him. They are out there, for anyone to read. I’m quite sure SoBeSparky knows this, given that links to these lists of reports have been posted in here more times than I can count.

        Here’s just one: http://www.travelunderground.org/index.php?threads/master-lists-of-tsa-abuses-crimes.317/

        This, of course, is well known by anyone who follows this blog. Which SoBeSparky does. So he knows.

  21. This reminds me of a famous story Richard Feynman (scientist who worked on the nuclear bomb in Los Alamos and later won the Nobel prize in physics) used to tell. When he was working at Los Alamos during WWII, everyone’s ID was checked by the military police when entering and exiting the facility. There were frequently long lines. The local contractors who worked at the facility did not like to wait in line, and Feynman figured out they were sneaking in through a hole in the fence a short distance away from the checkpoint.

    One day Feynman was bored, so he entered the facility through the hole in the fence, and went out through the checkpoint, then re-entered through the hole in the fence, and out again through the checkpoint. After about the 5th time, the guard said, “Hey, didn’t you just come out a few minutes ago?” To which Feynman replied, “Yes- you’ve got a hole in your fence.” Instead of thanking him for pointing out a flaw in their security, the guards figured he was up to no good and tried to arrest him. They weren’t interested at all that there was a hole in the fence.

  22. What was the TSA doing in Brooklyn? I thought they were only in charge of airports… They do subway stations too??

  23. We have a few questions about deletions and blacklistings, so let me address those if I may.

    Since the moderators have joined us, we’ve had two temporary account suspensions, both now expired. No one else has been blacklisted.

    We discuss every deletion as a group before taking action, but it’s possible that someone is arbitrarily deleting comments without any discussion. I’ve asked my moderator team to refrain from any future deletions until the comment has been fully discussed.

    Please let me know if any of your comments disappear. When a comment is deleted, you should be getting an email from a moderator, explaining why the comments was removed and usually asking you to resubmit it. If you don’t get an email from us or a comment explaining the deletion, then something is amiss — and I will look into it.

    1. Christopher, as you know, I fully support you, your blog, and what you do. Freedom-loving Americans need your voice out there. But let’s be honest here. I think the community here should know.

      It’s clear you have at least one rogue mod. I was banned from posting yesterday, for no reason whatsoever. This happened after my very first comment on this article, which contained nothing even remotely offensive. It was an innocuous agreement with your article.

      For several hours afterwards, I was unable to post. Someone banned me. It wasn’t until I contacted you directly, and you “white-listed” me, that I was able to comment again. You didn’t even know it had happened until I told you. I received no notification. I never even received a notification LAST time I was banned. So somebody is using their mod powers without your knowledge or approval.

      I’m sorry that this is happening to you. I hope you are able to figure out who the rogue mod is. Best of luck with that. Trust me, your comments section will be all the better for it.

      1. LeeAnne, I told myself yesterday I would not respond to you, but now I am just going to flounce and be done with Christopher’s website, blog, newsletter, etc.

        You have posted several comments painting yourself as a victim of this site’s mods. You’re will within your right to feel that way, but I don’t believe that gives you the right to lash out at other commenters because you cannot accept a difference of opinion. The day before you were banned you called me a “heartless creep.” We can agree to disagree, but name calling is a personal attack.

        In fact, you have called me names on 2 occasions, and I’ve seen you do it to others too. Please don’t assume that this is a rogue mod. Your past personal attacks have gotten a lot of “down votes,” and were probably also flagged by many users. I would like to thank the mods for taking action last time, the comments were much more civil during the last few months. I don’t want to play in the sandbox with the comment bully, and so I will not be back here until you are banned again.

        However, having observed how quickly your comments have been to escalate to a level of INTERNET SHOUTING over the these past two days, I may be back soon.

        1. Could this be John Baker? The one who hands out some pretty nasty insults of his own but never gets chastised or banned because he is a moderator? The one who keeps changing his handle so nobody realizes who he is?

          John Baker has done quite a bit of bullying of his own…To me as well as others. He frequently accuses other people of doing things they haven’t actually done while he is in the midst of doing it himself. (Like accusing someone of Internet shouting while using capitals–considered to be shouting by the moderators on this site.)

          Just wondering. The “J” makes me curious.

          BTW, demanding that someone else be banned as a prerequisite for your own participation is an excellent example of bullying, you know…especially if you are a moderator.

    2. Thank you very much, Chris. Although I have had several deletions, I have never received an email informing me why. If it happens again, I will let you know.

      Again, thank you very much for your efforts to keep things fair. It is deeply appreciated.

  24. More scary: Define your list.

    Twice while waiting on flights between the Pacific Northwest and the central United States, I was paged by the gate agent and asked two questions: 1) Where would like to sit, in the front or the back? 2) Are you carrying a weapon today?

    Never one to not take advantage of a misunderstanding, I said I would like to sit in first class, near the front, and no, not packing heat this flight.

    My conclusions: 1) There must be a federal Air Marshall with the same name and spelling as me. 2) My name must be on a list. 3) The airlines are indiscreet and loose assuming someone is something they are not. 4) Fortunately, I am on our side in the fight against air piracy and not a nut case.

  25. Of course YOU don’t have to worry. You’ve got a national platform to air any grievances. I’m just a little guy. If I get tapped there’s no way for me to make a big stink.

  26. I would love to know the basics of what the Jeff saw. Generally speaking, the NYPD does backpack checks. I’ve never seen the TSA at any NYC MTA subway station. Now, Atlantic Avenue is also a Long Island RailRoad station, so maybe they were in front of the railroad entrances and not the subway entrances? I am not familiar with the layout of the area and since one can connect from the subway to the railroad, it is not surprising that you enter at any of those entrances. But seriously, why would the TSA even be there?

  27. Large part of the reason to fear is the fact that TSA has practically unlimited power to deny the flight for any reason, or with no reason at all. For comparison: if you are stopped by a police officer, “rules of engagement” are defined very well. Depending on jurisdiction, you may or may not be required to tell your name. Depending on whether you were driving or walking, you may or may not be required to produce your ID. In order to arrest, he must have probable cause of a crime. You can refuse a search. If police violates these rules, you can sue them.

    Compare this to TSA. TSA can single you out for enhanced interrogation, they don’t have to explain it, and there are no defined reasons for that that you might challenge. During the interrogation, they can ask you any questions, such as what you do for living, why you are going to your destination, and so on – again, there are no limits to how personal their questions may be, and you can’t say “I don’t have to tell you that” without the risk of denying the boarding. They can search you, your luggage, your laptop, in any depth they want – again, no defined limits. They can deny boarding as punishment for non-cooperating with them, using their own definition of cooperation. Yes, they can’t arrest you, their power is limited by allowing or not the flight, but in those limits their power is absolute and can’t be challenged, even in the court. Technically speaking, if they refuse you boarding because of your bad haircut (or too sexy clothes of a teenage girl, a recent incident), you won’t do anything. This is unprecedented power, and that’s why people are afraid.

    In this case, if TSA really decided to flag you because of criticizing them, they would, and you wouldn’t be able to challenge it in any way, or even be informed about it. People are afraid not of what they know, but of what they don’t.

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