More Security Theater

Over the past week, I’ve seen several more examples of TSA Security Theater make the news.  First up is the businessman who managed to accidentally carry his personal handgun through security and onto an aircraft where he discovered his mistake during the flight.  To the man’s credit, he reported it upon arrival at his destination.  One has to ask how any TSA agent misses a handgun inside someone’s carryone baggage going through a scanner.

Then there was the small child who was frisked in Salt Lake City, Utah and who had to remove his shirt.  Originally, the reason cited was that he set off the scanner.  Later, it was revealed that it was because he was wearing “bulky” clothing.  One has to ask how a sweat shirt qualifies as bulky clothing. 

Finally, it was reported in the news that a TSA agent who was stealing laptops in Philadelphia has received probation for his offense.  The agent was reported by a baggage handler who saw this man hiding these items.  The irony of a baggage handler reporting theft is left to the reader. 

These aren’t minor, one time occurences.  They’re endemic to the security situation at most airports and representative of just how incompetently our security is being handled.  The government and, more specifically, the Department of Homeland Security has presented the new body scanners and thorough friskings (aka sexual assaults) as necessary to the security of air travel.

There are too many incidents of incompetence and dishonesty on the part of the TSA to see the new procedures as anything but additional layers of inconvenience that, considering who is performing the work, adds nothing to real security.  People have been trying to carry weapons onboard aircraft to commit serious crimes for nearly as long as airlines have been in existence.  After the spate of hijackings in the 1960′s and 1970′s, we introduced baggage scanning and metal detectors.  However, despite being given nearly 40 years to perfect the detection of a handgun, they still get through alarmingly easy at times.

Instead of ensuring that people actually do feel safer, our security apparatus has managed to make people feel even more annoyed at the idea of travel and that is saying something in this day and age.  If anything, we’ve gone from mere annoyance at our security theater to being often humiliated through the process. 

More machines and more procedures isn’t going to make us safer.  Having honest, vigilant and intelligent people run our security processes will.  Instead, we’ve created a new civil service job that pays poorly and attracts the barely qualified instead of the best of the best.   There is no esprit de corps inside the TSA and there is no honor in the job.  All too often we see these agents performing their roles with contempt for the very people they’re supposedly protecting.   Contempt that is justified with “terrorism” as a watchword.

It’s tolerated because the situation is presented in a manner in which people see no alternative.  When you have to travel 500 or more miles, there are few realistic options other than air travel for most people.  What is more insulting is that we have tacitly agreed to let the US government present the idea of air travel as a “privilege” rather than a “right” contingent upon you agreeing to let them do whatever they want to do in the name of security. 

I don’t think any rational person objects to real security work being performed at airports, including me.  What we do object to is the placebo approach to security veiled with threats and intimidation and conditional upon giving up constitutional rights such as the 4th Amendment. 

But as this holiday season goes on, people continue to be bullied, humiliated, insulted and intimidated all for the privilege of getting on an airplane to travel for pleasure or business.

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3 Responses to “More Security Theater”

  1. Good post… If I may interject:

    Finally, it was reported in the news that a TSA agent who was stealing laptops in Philadelphia has received probation for his offense.

    This is an obscenity. That TSA asshat should be behind bars, not on probation. Those who are charged with law enforcement should be held to a *FAR* higher standard than the General Population.

    What is more insulting is that we have tacitly agreed to let the US government present the idea of air travel as a “privilege” rather than a “right” contingent upon you agreeing to let them do whatever they want to do in the name of security.

    Well… Yes and no. There is no “Right” to travel by air; you can indeed use other [more relaxing] forms of transport, as I most ably proved this past spring, provided your schedule permits. The Constitution of no country on Earth that I know of lists “air travel” as a Right. However, what *is* listed as a Right, under Amendment #4 of our Constitution, is protection from “unreasonable search and siezure,” and I believe there is little doubt that the TSA’s backscatter porno-film makers and 4th-degree criminal sexual assaults qualify as “Unreasonable.”

    Too bad those in DC don’t have to deal with the same obscenities that we Mere Proles in GP do. Or maybe John Pistole likes that kind of stuff; he seems the type.

    -R

  2. The constitutional right to “travel” is actually embodied in constitution. See THIS link. Most believe that “unreasonably” restraining the right to travel may exist with what is going on with the TSA. It’s reasonable to expect a driver’s license in order to drive a car from state to state. It isn’t necessarily reasonable to require people to give up 4th Amendment rights in order to do so.

  3. The constitutional right to “travel” is actually embodied in constitution. See THIS link.

    Read what I wrote again. Here; let me add some emphasis for you:

    There is no “Right” to travel by air.

    -R

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