Every week, Bob Burns of the TSA Blog Team posts the TSA’s Week in Review and we cringe.
Bob’s method of recounting these stories isn’t the narrative of stopping terrorists. In the majority of these cases, the truth is they haven’t found anyone malicious, they’ve found a foolish person.
“A passenger at John Wayne Airport (SNA) attempted to bring a loaded .357 pistol through security in his carry-on bag. Leave your guns at home, pilgrim.”
“Two days in a row, Officers at Los Angeles (LAX) found throwing stars. One passenger had the star in his wallet and the other in their bag. We are familiar with the ways of your Kung Fu.”
Is this supposed to be funny? Is Blogger Bob a representative of a serious government agency or a bad stand-up comedian?
According to the TSA’s own website, their passenger screening mandate is to “appropriately screen air travelers to ensure that certain items and persons prohibited from flying don’t board commercial airliners.”
Instead of taking criticism, and responding to complaints with positive change, the agency, like many bureaucracies, is guarded and defensive, or more often completely dismissive. Michael Grabell of ProPublica wrote this week that the agency just responded to his freedom of information request for their complaint records…four years after he filed it, he is now in possession of the 2008 complaint records…complaints similar to those still being filed.
Reason.com pointed out this issue over two years ago, when they wrote TSA Pays Blogger to Mock People Harassed by TSA…and we have to agree that Blogger Bob is the Tokyo Rose of the modern age.
The TSA’s mission is screen us, regardless of whether we think that is security theater or not, they have a duty to do so fairly and with respect to those they are screening. The TSA requested a budget of over 8 billion in 2012. For our tax dollars, what do they have to show for it? Their measure of success is highlighting the discovery of items that would have likely been caught by pre-9/11 security measures.
The agency has not identified a single case where so-called “enhanced screening” methods found a dangerous item which would not have been found by pre-9/11 security techniques.
We’re tired of it all. We all want to be safe as we travel, and making it so any nut can’t bring a gun on a plane is all well and good, but the TSA keeps making its screening process more and more horrendous with no tangible results. More people are killed in traffic accidents each month, yet we don’t make the requirements to gain a driver’s license stricter, we don’t take traffic enforcement to the level we do security screening.
A month ago, the TSA prevented Bruce Schneier, who coined the term “security theater” from giving testimony before a congressional hearing on the subject of the TSA. Questioning the government is an essential part of our freedoms. We ceded a certain percentage of our freedoms in order to travel safely by air, but is it too late for us to rein in what we created?
- TSA Reveals Passenger Complaints … Four Years Later (propublica.org)
- TSA’s 20 security layers – productive or beneficial? (consumertraveler.com)
- TSA Agents Accused Of Taking Bribes To Let Drugs Through LAX Checkpoints (consumerist.com)
- TSA Agent Finds Ecstasy In Man’s Underpants (flightwisdom.com)
- Celebrities protest TSA patdowns (travel.usatoday.com)
- Airport discrimination? There’s an app (travel.usatoday.com)
- TSA Leaves Note Telling Passenger To “Go To Hell” (12160.info)
- Bloggers: TSA “Strongly Cautions” Against Writing About Security Loophole (consumerist.com)
- Blogger Bob–TSA’s Internet mouthpiece (Q&A) (news.cnet.com)
- Gun-shy TSA gets critic booted from Congressional panel (arstechnica.com)
- TSA agents charged with drug trafficking at LAX (travel.usatoday.com)
- TSA asks congressional panel to uninvite critic Bruce Schneier (news.cnet.com)