You remember all the TSA posts I did? Here and here. Well the TSA is still at it — nothing has changed since last October, only that most people haven’t been paying attention. But yeah. Here is your taxpayer dollars at work, protecting us while we fly the blue skies, from horrible, dangerous criminals ready to blow up planes:
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Yep. Would you put your six year old through that? I wouldn’t. And here’s the thing. You can’t opt out of these once the TSA calls you over for one (even if you’ve already gone through one of the problematic-in-their-own-right backscatter scanners). In fact by that point, you can”t even decline to board the plane and walk out of the airport until and unless the TSA releases you, or you risk huge fines and/or arrest.
Now, the TSA insists that “procedures were followed!!1!” (Screening of 6 Year-Old at MSY). Really? That is your best answer? You guys dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s so we should all smile happily and go, “Oh, good, what a relief, everything is just great,” now? “Followed procedures” is your magical get out of free card? It’s the best you can do to serious questions about what, exactly, TSA is accomplishing? You know what? “Followed procedures” is not the point. I really don’t fucking care that the agent followed exact orders with exact precision in patting down that little girl. The crucial question I want TSA to answer, and which no one does is:
In what way is all of this increasing security at airports?
Is any of this even necessary for increased security?
What’s to stop someone from boarding a plane outside the US and flying in to evade this? How come we keep hearing about people sailing past TSA with weapons, even using those fancy new backscatter scanners. Why haven’t we got better information on how safe these new scanners really are and why we have spent incredible amounts of money on them? Why do we have Kafka-eque “lists” (which nobody apparently can read, review, or find ways of removing themselves from such lists) of “no-fly” people that don’t yet seem to realize multiple people might have the same name? Why are we routinely detaining and humiliating people (Brit going home after ‘no-fly’ list had him trapped in Toronto, Jacob Appelbaum repeatedly detained at airports, and many more people) ? You can’t even call up TSA beforehand and get reliable information on what will be permitted through screening or not: Woman Arrested After Airport Applesauce Face-Off and TSA holds woman with breast milk captive in glass cage. Doesn’t seem to matter if you’re already down to the essentials: More TSA misery as wheelchair- bound woman in lingerie gets hour-long search and misses flight. And they can just take your stuff, whether it’s laptops or peanut butter.
And of course policies like this: TSA Warns Travelers May Be Arrested, Detained, and Fined for Refusing Search resulting in stand offs like this: Man Threatened with $10,000 Fine After Refusing TSA Grope. As the old saying goes: You can’t win, you can’t break even, and you can’t quit the game.
How come all of these questions and incidents have not triggered an actual review of the effectiveness of these procedures? Why not study what seems to work elsewhere — the Israeli for example seem to have very effective methods that are not invasive and humiliating like our TSA. My personal theory is that someone is making out like a bandit: notice the cost of those scanners that everyone’s being pushed to use, even though they miss little things like guns shoved into underwear.