One of the series of 'Pages on things that TICK ME OFF!'

Rights? You Want RIGHTS? Not With This Group!

Logo of the Transportation Security Administration - and is this sound byte the way they REALLY feel about us?

The new Transportation Security Administration, which among other things has federalized all U.S. airport passenger and baggage screeners, is wearing the wrong kind of uniform. Those spiffy-looking shirts with the embroidered yellow badge on the front are the wrong color. They should be BROWN, not white.

Why? Because the TSA reminds me of another group of self-righteous zealots who wore brown shirts back in the 1930s, over in Germany. Remember them? They liked to go around giving a stiff-arm salute to a certain madman who had bad hair and a tacky mustache.

The men and women of the TSA have an attitude - they are going to protect us, from ourselves if necessary, because they, and they alone, are the absolute arbiters of what is right. If that means publicly humiliating thousands of people, scaring the crap out of hundreds of thousands more, and committing massive violations of our civil rights along the way, well, they know best - right?

Think again, and try this scenario on for size:

You do all the right things: Don't bother to pack anything that might even remotely be considered a weapon in your carry-on luggage, get to the airport at an obscenely early time, have your picture ID and all the other stuff you are now supposed to carry, whether you need it or not.

The ordeal starts at the first security gate, where you have to say good-bye to your relatives, children, or whoever brought you to the airport, because they-could-really-be-evil-and-God-alone-knows-what-they-might-give-you-so-they-have-to-stay-behind. You have to run the TSA gantlet alone.

And you are truly alone, as you face the grim-faced men and women of the TSA, poised to spring into action without any provocation whatsoever, because it's their job. Forget the 'protecting us' stuff - the TSA's job appears to be much simpler: Just embarrass anyone and everyone who has the misfortune to have to fly, by going through their entire suitcase or bag, questioning everything down to the smallest detail, generally giving the traveling public more than just a hard time, and turning the screening process into a taxpayer-subsidized abuse session. Why? Because they are protecting us.

If you make it through that without having to involuntarily surrender some personal property (never to been seen again or compensated for in any way - it's for your own good, you know), then you get to wait, and wait, and wait, and wait - for the TSA to have another crack at you.

It's for your own good, you know, to have all of your personal possessions gone through a second time by another ham-handed, self-righteous, rude TSA screener - they are protecting you. Never mind that your flight is boarding and they've issued the final call, it's for your own good to be whacked all over your body with an electronic wand and be poked and prodded with it in places that even your mother probably hasn't seen in quite awhile. After all, you could be one of THEM, the people the TSA is protecting us from. Or you could just be an ordinary U.S. citizen, trying to go about his or her business in this brave new post-9/11 world.

The proud members of the TSA apparently never read that part of the U.S. Constitution that deals with unreasonable searches and seizures. Forget about even mouthing the phrase 'probable cause' or inquiring about your 'civil rights.' Remember, they are protecting you. They are with our government. They know best.

So much for the joys of flying.TSA baggage inspection sticker - serial number obscured to deter further harassment from the TSA.

When you get to your final destination, you may have another surprise waiting for you courtesy of the TSA - one of these spiffy, hard-as-heck-to-remove blue stickers on the outside of TSA baggage inspection tag - serial number obscured to deter further harassment from the TSA. your luggage when you go to retrieve it, or even worse, one of these impossible-to-remove plastic tags. You'll also find one of these little missives inside your bag, to further remind you that a total stranger has been fondling your personal possessions without your knowledge or consent or any guarantees whatsoever that your private life will remain just that - private.

Yep, they've been into your checked baggage also. It's not enough that they X-ray it and probably ruin any film you packed, they have to rearrange your suitcases for you! And if you tried to protect your valuables by locking your luggage, well, too bad - the TSA will cut that lock off in the interest of 'national security.' What do they care if your personal property gets stolen, as so frequently happens at airports? They are protecting you.

But apparently they're not doing all that great a job, because things like guns, knives, box cutters (one of the 9/11 hijacker's weapons of choice), etc., etc., are getting through with monotonous regularity according to the Government Accountability Office in their report, 'Aviation Security: Progress Since Sept. 11, 2001, and the Challenges Ahead,' which you can read by going here. Exactly how many weapons are getting through is classified - again because of 'national security' concerns. Or is it because the TSA doesn't want to admit that hassling ordinary, decent, law-abiding U.S. citizens just because it can is doing almost nothing to improve air travel security?

With that in mind, ponder these platitudes from the TSA's own website: (click to go there, so they can start tracking YOU as well)

Five Principles of TSA Service as a Transportation Security Screener

1. Security that is Professional - Service that delivers positive lasting impressions with proper image and effective communications. (It made a lasting impression all right, mainly that maybe George Orwell and 1984 weren't that crazy after all.)

2. Security with Customer Service - Service is efficient while maintaining the dignity of all passengers. (Dignity? Oh, right, that's the feeling I get when some total stranger is fondling all of my clothing and personal items while a bunch of other strangers watch and flex their hands over their stun guns, tear gas and other toys they are just dying to use on someone.)

3. Security that is Attentive - Service that acknowledges the passenger, strives to minimize passenger anxiety and put them at ease. (Hmmmmm ... so I'm a human being instead of a thing? Looks like they skipped that part of the training program. And having some sweaty-handed brownshirt shove an electronic wand around my body parts in no way produces any anxiety.)

4. Security supported through Teamwork - Service of the highest quality resulting from combined individual efforts. (Translation: If you even look cross-eyed at one of these guys, let alone say something, they are all going to jump you. They have to justify their existence somehow, and they don't care if it's at your expense.)

5. Security that ensures passengers' civil rights - Service that is delivered with respect and equity. (The TSA is not the first federal agency to use the U.S. Constitution as a door mat, and probably won't be the last, but it is certainly one of the most in-your-face and offensive and darn proud of it in recent memory.)
 Here is one final thought, by one of the greatest American patriots who ever lived:

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Benjamin Franklin

Have a nice flight!

Have things gotten any better? In a word, No. The GAO went back to see how things were going in one particular area, TSA Employee Misconduct, and found that things were, well, not very good, as you can read for yourself by clicking here. Among other things, 'Transportation Security: TSA Could Strengthen Monitoring of Allegations of Employee Misconduct' found that:

Out of all those thousands of cases, almost half were handled by giving the miscreant a letter of reprimand. No loss of pay, no suspension, no nothing. A letter. Whoop- de- frickin'-do.

Another 31 percent of the violators were given a suspension. At least that's something out of their back pockets to maybe make them think before they do something bad to the public again. BUT - they kept their jobs.

Only 17 percent of the cases, not even one in five, resulted in the screener getting the boot. Pathetic. If they know they can get away with anything, including wholesale abuse of the taxpaying public, and not suffer any genuine consequences the majority of the time, why should they ever change?


For the few of you who may still think the TSA is doing something worthwhile, here is more food for thought - a security consultant has put up an entire website demonstrating how easy it is to make dangerous and lethal weapons. With materials he bough in airport gift shops. After going through airport security. The biggest irony of all? He used a TSA-approved multitool to build these destructive devices. You can see the video here

Think about that for a minute.

This guy built an anti-personnel hand grenade in less than 10 minutes with common things he bought at the airport gift shops. He built a suitcase incendiary bomb that could be detonated by remote control. He built a shotgun that fired antipersonnel rounds.

I can see it now, the TSA is going to start taking away our dental floss, magazines and body spray.



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This page was last updated Feb. 2, 2014.

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