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Since I'm flying tomorrow (leaving O'Hare, of all places), I've been anxious, terrified, nervous, panicked, relaxed and then manic about the new TSA security. My ride drops me off a little after 4.30, will I be able to catch my 7 PM flight back home?

Will I be selected to go radioactively au naturale? Or should I get groped until they feel resistance?

And for the love of all that is logical, why is this going on? Even Hillary Clinton, when asked whether she'd go through the pat down procedure, replied  "Not if I could avoid it. No. I mean who would?"

Well, I spent most of the day reading and ended up on the TSA.gov site. There, I realized something that seemed really, really odd. They kept putting up all this information that was supposed to promote how effective they were but... it really showed the opposite.

I apologize for the image format, but I actually made this up to put on Reddit (which has hysterically named the TSA opposition subreddit "OperationGrabAss").

Anyway, in the era of impotent GOP budgetary maneuvers and concerns over the deficit, why not look at the TSA?

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You'll notice that the TSA doesn't receive, relatively speaking, tons of money. However, it's money specifically designed to humiliate, harass and threaten private citizens (which has been extensively covered on this site). And, if we use their statistics, it's woefully ineffective. $1.8 million dollars a day to find some little pack of drugs or beer bra or other nonsense less than once a day? That's not productive.

And, considering that only 60% of people go through places where these screens are available, presumably people going through other airports smuggle these "concealed prohibited items" onboard without incident.

As I mentioned on Twitter earlier this week, I expect that we'll see quite a few stories this week.
Combine a tearful recollection of harassment or what could be considered a lewd assault (the patdown), the government (or its agency, the TSA), holiday travel (a cause of stress for everyone) and a scary graphic? This is going to be local news catnip.

Hopefully, we see a dialing back of the new procedures, especially when you consider that making the airports more intimidating and discouraging air travel leads to an increase in deaths due to increased travel by car and harms the economy.

Originally posted to TheCavis on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 08:53 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  you're forgetting deterrence (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, white blitz, barbwires, Jane Lew

    undoubtedly, many more things would be smuggled through if not for the knowledge that they'll be checked.

    •  It's useless (11+ / 0-)

      A sideshow to make people feel like they're doing something.  A determined group, willing to sacrifice themselves and trained to do so could still bring down a plane.  

      Short of having us all just strip down and shuffle on board in hospital gowns that they hand us at the gate, this is all just theater.  

      Wiretaps, rendition, torture? eh. Just don't touch us in the airport.

      by Sun dog on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:03:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sure. (16+ / 0-)

      many more things would be smuggled through

      But what would be smuggled?

      From the TSA site:

      We are 50,000 security officers, inspectors, directors, air marshals and managers who protect the nation's transportation systems so you and your family can travel safely.

      (Emphasis mine)

      Sure, they may catch or deter the kid who tries to smuggle some pot strapped to his thigh or women who try to smuggle on booze, but that's not really their mandate.

      Anyone seriously interested in smuggling explosives will simply move from sewing things in their underpants to sticking it up their (hello!) or find some other mechanism to sneak things on. Meanwhile, we're frisking grandmothers and threatening people who decline both naked booths and patdowns with $11,000 fines for trying to leave without flying.

      It's become about power and intimidation, not security. Take, for instance, the guy today who wore bike shorts and removed the rest of his clothing. The response from the TSA guy? Get dressed so we can pat you down. That doesn't make sense. Check the clothes, make sure he isn't stuffing the shorts and move along. There's no need for the clothes to be on him unless you're trying to prove a point about how you're in charge.

      It's security theater that annoys people and, as mentioned in the 538 link, may actually cost lives (the estimate was that the increased deaths from decreased air travel due to security equalled four fully loaded 737s every year).

      •  The elephant in the room (8+ / 0-)

        the estimate was that the increased deaths from decreased air travel due to security equalled four fully loaded 737s every year).

        We make policy and personal decisions every day that cost or save thousands of lives on our roads.  But the threat of terrorism?  For that we'll light our own hair on fire.  

        Disaster in the sky is more dramatic.  But we're being illogical and foolish in our policy decisions.  

        Wiretaps, rendition, torture? eh. Just don't touch us in the airport.

        by Sun dog on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:28:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  And after all this (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          PinHole, kurt, Sun dog

          wouldn't bombers just move to other public areas?  At that point, would we all be cordoned off and cerfewed, except for the traveling class?  

          Hasn't been that long since we were sold the Patriot Act based on the effectiveness of intelligence gathering.  We hear assurances that it's effective. Until TSA decides to buy scanners, that is.  Suddenly intelligence is inadequate.

    •  But they aren't (0+ / 0-)

      I don't know how many people are selected for scanning except that the odds are very much against it...there's no way the airlines could operate if more than a handful out of a hundred people were scanned (or worse yet, groped). That's what's really absurd...all the terrorists need is 3 people travelling separately and not calling attention to themselves, at least one (probably all three) will get through.

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 10:47:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Be relaxed! n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pensivelady

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:05:28 PM PST

  •  I feel your pain (10+ / 0-)

    I have a flight through O'Hare next Wednesday.  I've decided to opt for the grope over the scan, if it comes to that.  

    I might panic or cry over a grope, but the Sheeple aspect of the full body naked scanning makes me ill.  It's not a good thing to give into, if we want to have a shred of collective dignity.  Especially since it's not thought to be the best way to find threats.

    I also plan to pack prudently.  I won't be taking any of the iffy things (like crafts supplies to use with my grandchildren) that I usually take.  I shipped gifts ahead, and I'm only taking clothes and toiletries.  I had to completely alter my plans for the whole visit.  Oh well.

    There's a good chance I won't fly anymore, if gropes and scans are a permanent standard.  

    Enough about me.  Good luck on your flight, Cavis.

  •  My TSA mini-comment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    randomfacts

    I was returning to PDX from CMH.  I went through the metal detector and then was asked to put my hands above my head and stand in the bug zapper (advanced imaging device).

    It took about 15 seconds and I was on my way.

    End of story.

    •  It may not bother you... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Timaeus, kurt

      But the concept of someone looking at a naked picture of me is extremely disconcerting.

      It was even more disconcerting when I found out that the person who looked may not be the same gender as you (patdowns are same-gender; imaging may or may not be and you can ask before you go in if it would affect your decision).

      The fact that it's someone in another room, they're not looking at you, it seems like nothing happened other than you standing there... I think it minimizes most people's reaction to what's happening and turns it into a conceptual "some stranger may see me naked" rather than "someone's looking at me naked right now".

      •  I'm not defending it (0+ / 0-)

        I think it's stupid.  But I don't understand the visceral reaction that some people apparently get to the body scans.

        I don't like the potential radiation damage.  

        I don't like the additional rat-in-a-maze aspect.

        But I don't care if anyone -- even a lascivious creep -- sees an image of me, if it speeds my way onto a plane.

        I'm not that special and I am one of thousands or tens of thousands they may see. I suppose I don't understand the reaction some people have against that.  And I'm a pretty shy person.  I find it odd that so many seem absolutely beside themselves at the prospect of a body scan.  Are they so certain their body will be noted, remembered, saved, and shared with the world?

        I ask because the probability of that seems quite low.

  •  Good luck to you. I hope it goes well. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sun dog

    Let us know how it went.  I definately understand how you feel.  I will be flying to Atlanta at Christmas and I'm already dreading it.

    If I'm not an activist, would that make me a pacifist?

    by pensivelady on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:34:57 PM PST

  •  Pat Downs Are for Now. Radiation is For the Ages (8+ / 0-)

    and your great great grandchilren's great great grandchildren.

    For God's sake the groping is probably the last choice we'll ever have to be confronted in a way we're evolutionarily adapted to understand. Knowledge and understanding is always the first choice over WTF.

    Radiation from machines made by an unregulated economy in unregulated locations and free from testing by systems charged with protecting health???

    My nakedness in the hands of some groper? "Ach tis nothin' but what the Laird made me, ye puritan pukes!!"

    So my dick's 4 1/2 inches. So now you know.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Nov 21, 2010 at 09:49:26 PM PST

  •  Carry any small packages of prohibited drugs (0+ / 0-)

    in your mouth.

    Agricultural hemp is "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs."

    by ben masel on Mon Nov 22, 2010 at 02:06:01 AM PST

  •  TSA admits focus is on drugs & not bombs/weapons (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rockhound

    Nice spot in the TSA blog embed. Keep in mind TSA employees are NOT law enforcement officers (LEO). Keep in mind, when they were created that they were not tasked w/ doing the job of the DEA or local LEO.

    If Congress feels so strongly that our airports are a haven for drug mules, then they should change TSA so that all of its screeners are LEO instead of brainless morons.

    The naked screeners will snag someone smuggling a bindle of coke or a couple of joints but they will not catch someone crazy enough to swallow a balloon of heroin.

    Since the naked scanners can't detect explosives, including anything crammed into a cavity, it seems the scanners were purchased for security theater and prevent air travelers — not drug mules — from flying w/ small amounts of drugs on them.

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