Skip to content

TSA Update And Practicum

I have to face the “Ver are your papers!” brigade this morning as I once again make my way through the carbon-dioxide soaked skies to the land of growing taxes, rampant regulation, and no plastic bags—but also one very pretty ocean and tasty wine.

Just in case I am grabbed out of the pen for a “screening”, I have selected my cleanest and sturdiest pair of undershorts. And you can be sure my grooming habits will be such that I will be able to withstand the closest scrutiny.

Aren’t we glad we did this to ourselves? Appointed another zealous and growing bureaucracy over us? One with guns, power to search without cause, and harass and humiliate even the humblest person? Don’t we feel safer? Isn’t feeling safe the most important thing in the world?

I mean, just look at all the terrorists TSA has caught! That number rivals one, being one less than one—and actually being many less than one less than one, if you count all the useless searches as innocent people.

Now it seems rich to protest! And time to re-read this classic bit of prognostication: TSA Expands Jurisdiction To Sidewalks: Where Is The Left? Please to note this was written before your humble author learned of these events:

Earlier this year, Amtrak passengers in Savannah, Ga., stepped off into a TSA checkpoint. Though the travelers had already disembarked the train, agents made women lift their shirts to check for bra explosives. Two weeks ago, armed TSA and Homeland Security agents hit a bus depot in Des Moines, Iowa, to question passengers and demand their papers.

These raids are the work of TSA’s “Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response” (VIPR or “Viper”) team—an acronym at once senseless and menacing, much like the agency itself.

On June 14, TSA head John Pistole informed Congress that VIPR teams had carried out “over 3,700 operations in mass transit and passenger railroad venues” over the last year—and the agency wanted funding for more.

Viper! They actually call themselves viper! Such rampant self-esteem and baseless self-regard we can accept in college students and politicians, but not in armed TSA agents (defined as people who had a difficult time finding more productive work).

I rarely ask, but if could spare a moment, could you please send a message to your Senators and representative and ask them to de-fund the TSA? Or at least subject them to civilian oversight, possibly in the form of citizen boards, much like those overseeing some police departments.

9 thoughts on “TSA Update And Practicum Leave a comment

  1. Wow.

    “…armed TSA and Homeland Security agents hit a bus depot in Des Moines, Iowa,…”

    That’s the Frick and Frack of safety and security right there in one place, America’s heartland no less. Possibly at the bus depot furthest away from either border or ocean, thus the perfect place for canny federal Keystone Kops to search for terrorists. How many did they pull off Greyhound that day? Six? Less? “Nada”, you say? Well, I’m sure it was a great experience for the trainees among ’em – and pleased the local citizens no end.

  2. The US is not the only country to believe that random sampling is an effective weapon in the war on terrorism. Until recently, UK police made intensive use of ‘stop and search’ powers on photographers as a prevention of terrorism measure, especially in London, and on tourists. Not a single person was charged despite well over 100000 searches. Public ridicule of the waste of resources finally put an end to it. It seems the TSA could benefit from the expert advice of a statistician. How about it Mr Briggs?

  3. Just in case I am grabbed out of the pen for a “screening”, I have selected my cleanest and sturdiest pair of undershorts. And you can be sure my grooming habits will be such that I will be able to withstand the closest scrutiny.

    Why make it pleasant for the screeners? It was bad enough dealing with customs inspectors (entering just about anywhere) but having to put up with this in the homeland — it’s just too much. I have been singled out only twice — both times when I tripped the metal detector. The most unpleasant one was at Heathrow T4 where I was thrown against the wall before any questions were asked. They didn’t like the used tissues in my jacket pocket in the slightest either. Too bad. They could have simply asked to see the contents and I would have shown them. Doubt they learned from that. The other was at SF when my laptop case was unceremoniously overturned and dumped onto a table. Fortunately, nothing was broken. Why they did that I don’t know. Setting off the detector with my belt buckle was very suspicious I suppose. At least I was never strip-searched.

    I rarely ask, but if could spare a moment, could you please send a message to your Senators and representative and ask them to de-fund the TSA?

    Oh, wow. Nothing like tattooing a Homeland Security investigation bullseye to liven your life. eh?

    SteveP,

    “Public ridicule of the waste of resources finally put an end to it.”

    But it did end. That’s the difference between here and elsewhere. What are the chances that an agency which defends strip-searching 95 yo wheelchair riders will ever get embarrassed enough to stop?

    49r,

    What else is there to do in Des Moines? That was probably the best show in town that day even with the bad acting.

  4. @ DAV. Too true. I O W A (something out walking around) [learned from an Iowan bartender, if you’re offended].

    Was gonna suggest Matt wear adult diapers for the search process in order to encourage the destabilization of the agency, but it would just paint a target on him I suppose.

  5. Years ago in large citys the police used to stop and frisk suspicious looking people. The courts ruled stop and frisk is illegal. What is the difference between what TSA does and stop and frisk?

  6. Have you thought about applying the Un-Resisting Invasive Nonvoluntary Exams method?

    Here is how it works. Bring an extra change of pants, underwear, socks, and shoes in your carry on.. If you are pulled in to the pen for a routine molestation, simply begin urinating in your trowsers. Just let it all out for everyone to see (and smell)… It’s the only way to be sure you’re not hiding anything.

    It’s a sad day when the people you want protection from are the ‘protectors’…

  7. “Why are you banging those two sticks together?”

    “To frighten away the elephants.”

    “But, there aren’t any elephants here…”

    “See, it works!”

  8. Don’t argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *