Free Markets, Free People

TSA absurdities–trading liberty for security and getting neither

This TSA nonsense is getting past absurd very quickly. Yesterday in San Diego (again – that’s where "don’t touch my junk" was first heard) there was another incident. This time the guy in question refused the scanner and, knowing what was coming, and most likely trying to avoid being groped, stripped down to his underwear.

OK perhaps he shouldn’t have done that, but by doing so it became clear there was nothing hiding on his person. That’s where the laugh out loud and shake your head moment came in:

This time the defendant, Sam Wolanyk says he was asked to pass through the 3-D x-ray machine. When Wolanyk refused, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel told him he would have to be patted down before he could pass through and board his airplane.

Wolanyk said he knew what was coming and took off his pants and shirt, leaving him in Calvin Klein bike undergarments.

“It was obvious that my underwear left nothing to the imagination,” he explained. “But that wasn’t enough for the TSA supervisor who was called to the scene and asked me to put my clothes on so I could be properly patted down.”

Yeah, that’s right – don’t believe you lyin’ eyes, only a good grope will satisfy the authorities.

This comes on the heels of another example of the absurdity we’re subjected too.  And no the following isn’t apocryphal, this happened and has been confirmed. These troops had already been cleared by customs in a detailed inspection to include sniffer dogs, the whole 9 yards. They had not been off the plane since. Over two hundred of them were on the plane with their M4 assault rifles and SAWs. The plane stopped in Indiana to drop off some troops and instead of letting the plane take off (it didn’t need to be refueled) to its final destination, TSA insisted the troops all get off for another inspection.  And, of course, TSA was very successful in finding a bunch of hidden weapons with which the plane could have been taken over. This was written by a soldier who witnessed the exchange:

So we’re in line, going through one at a time. One of our Soldiers had his Gerber multi-tool. TSA confiscated it. Kind of ridiculous, but it gets better. A few minutes later, a guy empties his pockets and has a pair of nail clippers. Nail clippers. TSA informs the Soldier that they’re going to confiscate his nail clippers. The conversation went something like this:

TSA Guy: You can’t take those on the plane.

Soldier: What? I’ve had them since we left country.

TSA Guy: You’re not suppose to have them.

Soldier: Why?

TSA Guy: They can be used as a weapon.

Soldier: [touches butt stock of the rifle] But this actually is a weapon. And I’m allowed to take it on.

TSA Guy: Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets.

Soldier: And I can take over the plane with nail clippers?

TSA Guy: [awkward silence]

Me: Dude, just give him your damn nail clippers so we can get the f**k out of here. I’ll buy you a new set.

Soldier: [hands nail clippers to TSA guy, makes it through security]

This might be a good time to remind everyone that approximately 233 people re-boarded that plane with assault rifles, pistols, and machine guns-but nothing that could have been used as a weapon.

Meanwhile, back in San Diego – Wolanyk is paraded through 2 other terminals in his underwear, because one assumes, it would have been too much of a hassle to let him get dressed before removing him from the TSA area.  He was obviously in the wrong for disrobing, but what that necessary?

And another less publicized arrest took place there as well.  A woman was arrested for taking “illegally filming the x-ray, and TSA screening process with a video camera.”  Her camera was confiscated, she was issued a citation and released.

The irony of all of this is if anyone wanted to do what the 9/11 killers did, all they have to do is go charter a plane.  So none of this is going to stop a 9/11 type event if the killer in question is reasonably intelligent.  If the killers want to bring down a passenger plane, there are all sorts of other ways to do so that TSA hasn’t even imagined.  But the agency is reactive – not proactive.  It’s looking for repeats of things that have happened, despite the fact that none of the things which have happened have been repeated.

We spend all this money and time to produce an agency which proudly announces that it is in the rights violation business and that your rights are not more important than security.  And when confronted with the fact that the flying public is rebelling against this gross breech of their rights (as one woman said, after a pat down, “in some countries we’d be married right now”) the TSA administrator throws this out there:

“Do I understand the sensitivities of people? Yes,” Pistole said to CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.” “If you’re asking, am I going to change the policies? No.”

Or, "screw you and your concerns about rights and propriety – once you get in my line, I decide what rights you have and what is or isn’t appropriate". Like all but strip-searching 12 year old boys.

A couple of points.  Much of the flying public that refuse to put up with such nonsense are going to be looking at alternatives.  Personally, anything 4 to 5 hours away by car is now automatically a car trip – I don’t even consider flying.  And given what’s going on, I’ll probably extend that to 8 hours away (which would cover 99% of my trips).  I don’t intend to reward a government policy which intrudes on my rights (and health) by subjecting myself to it.

Which makes the point that airlines may begin to see passenger traffic go down as the use of these scanners and and pat downs expand (another in a long line of innovative job/business killing policies by this administration).

I’m not willing to trade liberty for security.  And I’m damn sure not about to meekly submit to their intrusion in person.  I will refuse to use air travel as long as that’s the procedure.  And for the airlines, that’s another potential passenger you’ve lost until this TSA nonsense is stopped.

BTW, airlines –  it is my understanding you do not have to use TSA.  I’d be seriously considering that right now if I were you.  But regardless, you should be sitting in front of Pistole right now as a group pounding on his desk and demanding he change the policies and do so quickly.

Charles Krauthammer summed my thoughts up on this rather nicely last week:

We pretend that we go through this nonsense as a small price paid to ensure the safety of air travel. Rubbish. This has nothing to do with safety – 95 percent of these inspections, searches, shoe removals and pat-downs are ridiculously unnecessary. The only reason we continue to do this is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling – when the profile of the airline attacker is narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known. So instead of seeking out terrorists, we seek out tubes of gel in stroller pouches.

The junk man’s revolt marks the point at which a docile public declares that it will tolerate only so much idiocy. Metal detector? Back-of-the-hand pat? Okay. We will swallow hard and pretend airline attackers are randomly distributed in the population.

But now you insist on a full-body scan, a fairly accurate representation of my naked image to be viewed by a total stranger? Or alternatively, the full-body pat-down, which, as the junk man correctly noted, would be sexual assault if performed by anyone else?

This time you have gone too far, Big Bro’. The sleeping giant awakes. Take my shoes, remove my belt, waste my time and try my patience. But don’t touch my junk.

Amen.

~McQ

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19 Responses to TSA absurdities–trading liberty for security and getting neither

  • Some correctly called this “security kabuki”.
    It is LESS than useless…it WILL result in Americans getting killed, and it DOES result in the degradation of our rights.
    As I’ve noted elsewhere, it seems calculated to suppress flying as a means of mass transportation.

  • TSA Guy: Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets.

    I realize it is prob a violation of millitary regulations, but I have yet to meet a trigger puller that did not have a few lose rounds rattling around, either on purpose or accidentally, in their gear.

  • And when the airlines come crying to Congress about being in huge debt and falling passenger counts, WHO do ya think is gonna be called upon to Fail/Bail them out?

    • Yep, that’s the aggravating thing about it.  They refuse to take the route that is most efficient and cost-effective, and when things go badly they simply reach into our pockets.  Let that be a lesson, they tell us.  You’ll pay one way or another, but by golly you’ll pay.

  • BWIII – absolutely – nothing is going to help this recession – I forgot it’s over – like more gov’t regulation – this time killing the profits for an entire industry.

  • The TSA is doing the body scanner thing all wrong.
    I’m sure they could get greater acceptance of the body scanner, thus easing the the need for “pat downs,” by offering copies of the body scanner image for sale near the exit of the TSA inspections area.  Sort of Disneyland meets TSA.

  • Is this not typical of how we deal with our problems anymore?  Somebody abuses alcohol, so we make obtaining alcohol ever more difficult for everybody.  Somebody uses a firearm to commit a crime, so we put ever-greater restrictions on firearms ownership for everybody.  “Net neutrality”.  Speech codes.  And now security kabuki.  It’s no longer about punishing the guilty: it’s about controlling everybody.

    BWIIIAnd when the airlines come crying to Congress about being in huge debt and falling passenger counts, WHO do ya think is gonna be called upon to Fail/Bail them out?

    Yep.

  • Don’t just “opt out” of naked scanners only to be sexually molested/assaulted, instead. Boycott Flying COMPLETELY, until sanity returns! Please join us: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Boycott-Flying/126801010710392

  • Deja vu ?

    “First generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small. “It’s hard once such a programme is put in place to deal with the lobbies that keep it going.”
    He [Al Gore] explained his own support for the original programme on his presidential ambitions. ”
    One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president.”

  • When you put this in context with an inept administration that absolutely knows that it is one successful terror attack away from being put out to pasture (especially given there have been a few misfires they were extremely lucky on) then this makes perfect sense.

    Of course, a serious administration would adpot the Israel model of security.  Oh, but then someone’s feelings would get hurt, so lets just grab and grope everyone instead!

  • Nice to know we can keep the Japanese entertained in the process.

  • TSA Guy: Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets.

    Use the rifle butts as weapons? In a way I feel bad for the actual TSA gropers. Most of them have to realize that this is stupid and they are the butt of endless jokes but they need a job. On the other hand:

    Beans, beans, the musical fruit
    The more you touch me, the more I toot.

  • These new measures can in fact be counterproductive as they can encourage the terrorists to change or even improve their tactics when carrying out terrorist attacks.

  • I could be wrong, but while it’s true that the airports don’t have to use TSA *agents*, they do have to follow TSA rules? So they can have all the private contractors they want, but they still have to have the porno-scanners and commit sexual assault.
    I live in Seattle and won’t fly anywhere closer than San Diego anymore.

  • Welcome to Grope And Change, America!

  • Dear Airlines,
    I’m leaving you.  Yes, we’ll be forced to see each other at work; I don’t have a choice.  But you’ve lost me.  I don’t want to be molested any more.  Also, my wife and kids, forget it.  If a stranger on the street did what you’re allowing the TSA to do,  I’d beat the pervert until blood so covered his face, you couldn’t tell it was a face.
    Any trip I make from now on, and I mean ANY trip, I’m going by car.  Yes, it will take longer.  Yes, it will not save me any money.  Yes, it’s statistically more dangerous.  But, I don’t have to surrender my dignity or my rights in order to get onto the highway.  The highway doesn’t ask for naked photos.  The highway doesn’t assume I’m guilty until proven innocent.
    So, goodbye.  I will miss you but I won’t miss the way you treat me.
    -Justin

  • In all seriousness, I don’t see what good the AIT and enhanced pat-downs are doing.  Without doing strip-searches and body cavity checks, TSA can’t secure an airplane any more than it could secure the Mississippi river.  At best, the extra security will just merely displace terror attacks.
    Here’s what I mean: in order to successfully hijack/bomb a plane you have to get through several types of security.  First, when you buy you’re ticket, your name is checked.  Second, your checked bags are scanned.  Third, your carry-ons are scanned.  Forth, you are scanned and perhaps checked again.  On top of all this, your are constantly watched and videotaped.  Now, I don’t think the security is actually all that good; but this describes what is known as a “hardened target”.  There’s lots of security, and they are looking for attackers.
    I’d rather hit a “soft target”.  I assume anyone else with reasonable intelligence (and we must assume terrorists are at least some-what intelligent) would do the same.  I’d rather hit a target that has little or no security.  Here’s what I’d do with my several jihadi friends.  1. I’d purchase several semi-automatic rifles and pistols via the black market.  2.  I’d equip each attacker with about 200 rounds and a suicide vest.  3.  We’d walk into a mall the day after Thanksgiving at around 11 AM from separate entrances and start shooting anyone we saw.  4.  We’d slowly more toward a pre-arranged point herding the crowd into ever a smaller area maximizing our killing.  5.  Once the police arrived, we’d engage them taking several of them too.  6.  If at any time, if it looks like we’d be captured or killed, we’d key our vests killing anyone even remotely near to us.
    Chances are, our little group could kill anywhere from 100 to 200 people, easy.  And here’s the best part: no one could prevent it.  Yes, we’d eventually be killed, but so would anyone hijacking a plane.
    My point is simply this: security is an illusion, a mirage that’s always just on the horizon.  It’s not worth sacrificing our constitutional rights for a little more fantasy.  This BS with the TSA must stop.