Mostly about my amusement

Tag: TSA (page 1 of 1)

Have you ever caught anyone or anything?

Next time you go to an airport, see if they ask you to step behind a screen to disrobe. Bending down and touching your toes while naked may be optional.

Also the goon examining you? Don’t worry, he promises to not keep that photo he just took with his cell phone of you. You can be assured, if the TSA does catch the alleged offender, they promise that nothing will happen to that person, no one will ever hear about it, and there will be no investigation.

Don’t worry, this always worked in the movies

Years ago, after 9/11, buildings that I worked in had installed airport style x-ray machines. When you came in you put your bag on a conveyor and ran it through the machine. Bored security guards would look and pretend to be interested. I don’t recall 100% but I don’t think you had to run your coat though the machine.

I’m a friendly talkative guys and I got to know the security guards. I stood next to them, saw what they saw while they did their work and when no one was around I just asked them: did you ever find any weapons or anything illegal?

They never caught a thing. I asked them because occasionally even night club security will turn up knives and small-caliber handguns. No joke, while the machines were there they x-rayed thousands of bags and never had one hit.

But there was a press conference so it must work

For many companies the x-ray machines were not about security. Those companies got a significant discount on their building insurance just for having them. Those machines were part of a profit center. Since I no longer have to do this (for years), I’m guessing that the insurance companies wised up to the scam.

The full body scanners installed in JFK are just like that except there is no discount to the airlines, consumers, or airport. It’s one of those things done to advance the idea of Security Theater and does not do a thing to make traveling by airplane safer. It’s not as ridiculous as the bottled water ban (seriously, bad guys wont be able to sell “compromised” water in the concession stands?) but it sure is more expensive.

What makes this more offensive is that to pass through this is to submit to a strip search. The TSA can (and does) dress this up as something else but that’s what it is. Every time you submit to this you are permitting yourself to be strip searched.

It doesn’t matter that their survey show that 98% of the passengers opted to be x-rayed instead of physically molested by untrained guards. The reason it does not matter is that the survey only reflects the passengers desire to get past the security theater portion of their trip quickly.

The TSA respects your rights, now shut up and get in line

NOTE: I would easily wager that 98% of the TSA staff at the airports are professional, polite, and patient. Except for seeing my wife and all other Asians randomly racially profiled in Dallas again, I expect to meet and deal with more TSA professionals. But I also expect to encounter that 2% and strip searches sure wont help.

Here are some questions that would be nice to have answered by example.

  1. What protections does the TSA provide/implement to prevent abuse?
  2. What are the penalties for the convicted abusers?
  3. What is the TSA’s success rate, their hit/miss ratio?
  4. If anyone can opt out (and I hope many do) how will the TSA penalize the people who opted out?
  5. Will opt-outs be accidentally be required to miss their plane?

I won’t submit to a strip search and will not let them scan my children either. If I get physically assaulted patted down by a screener what remedy do I have besides none?

The TSA security guards are not law enforcement, they are not trained police officers. I don’t care how emboldened their TSA shoulder patch makes them feel, they are the equivalent of bank guards.

Village Idiot wants to punish the Newark Scare guy

Here we go.

“He’s really an unwelcome guest,” Lautenberg told The Record of Bergen County. “He should be returned to his homeland.”

via Controversy swirls over graduate student who breached security at Newark Airport | New Jersey Real-Time News – –

This translates into

“I’m 85 years old but may want to get re-elected anyway. So I’m going to speak pointlessly and try to make the government looks less-than-idiotic. Hey, did I mention how important a Senator is?”

Later on the Senator toned down the rhetoric but honestly.

A little proportion here. This Great Security Threat walked around an unguarded exit. The big security control was a fabric fence meant for guiding a line. Why doesn’t the airport just install one way revolving doors like you have in the New York subway system? People with wheelchairs can use a locked door that only opens from a security operator, and in case of a fire the doors would open automatically. This is not new technology, the answer has been around for years. It would be inconvenient but what is the TSA trying to accomplish anyway?

The argument against that is probably “that costs too much money” but how much did it cost to shut down the airport for all of those hours? And does anyone actually believe that the bad guys are not aware of this before all the commotion?

I am positive that the Great Government Security Theater will get this poor guy deported just to cover themselves. That really would be a shame but that is just how the system works. Don’t solve any problems just go after anyone who reveals them.

Woo, they got the Newark Scare Guy

Nice to see Senator Lautenberg still goes for the sound bite. Is he up for re-election?

“This was a terrible deed in its outcome — it wasn’t some prank that didn’t do any harm — it did a lot of harm because it sent out an alert that people can get away with something like this,” Lautenberg said.

via Police arrest man in Newark security breach – Airliner security-

My children sometimes see my blog so I’m not going to type what I really think.

This guy went around a fabric barrier just like the ones in your bank line to see the teller. Every time I get off of an airplane and walk to the luggage area, I always think “Geez, anyone could just walk in this way”. And surprise! Someone did. And now he’s faced with a $500 fine. I’m also betting that ICE suddenly decides to deport him.

If ICE does do that, that would be very wrong. This guy’s infraction really is only worth a fine. It’s the TSA that needs to learn from this and buckle up their process. I don’t blame the TSA guard who let this happen for 2 reasons: he’s a only security guard and NOT law enforcement, and it’s not his fault that his managers can’t enforce coverage when one of their guys needs to walk away for some reason.

At Penn Station I see many TSA guards and personally I think that they’re utterly useless. What does cheer me up is that I see the same number of Amtrak police officers in the same area. I expect real law enforcement to keep me safe, I don’t expect much from overworked and low paid door guards. I don’t have a problem with TSA staff but let’s be honest about what they are and what they do.

So the Senator from New Jersey thinks that this revealed some horrible secret weakness in our airports. I’m hoping that the evil people who exploit these things have the same quality of smarts as our elected officials.

No joke, take no laptops or ipods out of the country

Things sure are weird in this country.  People will just accept the oddest things.

I wonder how long it will be before DHS can copy all photos and papers you take on a trip?  They can seize and copy your entire laptop every time you cross the border.  Next time you come back into the U.S. you lose all privacy regarding any electronic device you have.  A misinformed TSA monkeys will decide if you are a criminal or not.  Or they can take their time, since they can copy all your data to examine at a later date.

Remember kids: in the United States if you are not guilty and have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to be afraid of.  No need to count on suspicion of actually breaking the law or protection of your rights against unreasonable search and seizures.

The 4th amendment does not apply because the government says it doesn’t. the important thing is not that we are developing a police state run by brown shirts, the important thing is Security Theater.

This is insane.  This sort of thing is supposed to happen in other countries; we’re supposed to have a history of protecting our citizens rights.  It makes me wonder if the conspiracy nuts are actually on to something. Papers please.

Back from a 5 day vacation this week

Cabo from the Air ( year Lily’s company nominates about 100 employees or so and sends them to a company paid vacation/off site meeting. These nominations are to reward them for outstanding achievements. The employees get to bring their significant others and this year Lily was selected to go.

This is the second time Lily and I went and we had a great time. The company sent us to Cabo San Lucas and Lily signed us up for the spa.

I’m not a sophisticated person. The barber is about as pampered as it gets for me (and it shows). So with some prodding from one of my friends we signed up for a pedicure, a manicure, and a massage.

It was a weird experience for me. Overall it was fine but I’m ticklish and kept laughing during the pedicure. During the massage I was asked if the pressure was too much. I said “No, it’s a little light” and she really worked on me. It did not quite hurt exactly but I now know what it’s like to go through a meat grinder.

Going to Mexico was a breeze. We had no hassle from the TSA, the transfer at Dallas was uneventful, and customs in Cabo was a snap. The most telling part of going was that we could not take water through the screening gate but we could buy bottles of water after the TSA and carry those potentially lethal water devices onto the plane.

(The TSA at the metal detector said we were allowed to buy water from the stands near the boarding gate, yes we took water on that way, and yes TSA war on liquids is too stupid for words).

Coming back was crowded and a little chaotic. We went through US customs and immigration screening at Dallas and once we were screened we got our luggage and went to the TSA guard like everyone else to go to our connecting flight. They do what you expect; they ask some questions and “randomly” select passengers for additional screening with x-ray of the luggage and some more questioning. We thought they picked us because we had a company provided lunch box with chicken inside.

Random, oh yeah, right. When we got into the waiting area and were lined up behind some people I told Lily “It wasn’t the lunch box”. They picked out every Asian passenger in the crowd. The only non-Asians were people like me who were traveling with an Asian (Lily is Chinese). Not a small amount of people either. That delayed our getting to our connecting flight in another terminal and we ended up racing to the plane.

At the gate I mentioned that we were delayed because of the TSA. The attendant said they screen randomly to which I replied “Yeah they randomly got every Asian”.

I did not complain to the TSA. They are not really law enforcement professionals like police officers, they don’t necessarily have an education past high school, and operate underneath secret and unpublished laws. Per other accounts they don’t have to explain to you why they abuse their authority or even really justify that abuse.

At Dallas they were not rude or unprofessional to us at all and aside from the obvious discrimination and delay I have no complaint. But had I made an issue of their “random” selections they could have gone nuts and I would have no recourse. See Homeland Stupidity for some better examples of problems with DHS. See Dr. Pournelle’s and others experience for more references.

Oh well. The vacation was great fun and like thousands of other travelers I just put up with this and hope that things get better.