What happened when one pilot refused to submit to "naked" backscatter scan

Discuss

115 Responses to “What happened when one pilot refused to submit to "naked" backscatter scan”

  1. jgs says:

    The Ghandi quote above is nice, but mis-directed. In this case the pilot wasn’t dealing with the state, he was dealing with low-level enforcement officers in a corporate setting, not a public institution.

    See previous comment regarding “corporate setting” being a red herring.

    In your view what WOULD be a way to confront The State other than by confronting those doing The State’s dirty work?

    • bob cooley says:

      @jgs

      “In your view what WOULD be a way to confront The State other than by confronting those doing The State’s dirty work?”

      A tail that small is never going to wave the dog.

      If you don’t want to follow the rules, get the rules changed. The TSA drone has no power or authority to enact any such change. Its a useless gesture.

      But again, the main point here is that flying is not an inalienable right.

      • Anonymous says:

        No offense, but this “you can choose not to fly” attitude is a pretty stupid way to approach this problem. Maybe YOU can choose not to fly, but many of us cannot. Many of us have to fly for work, for example. Many people have to fly to see their families. Many people fly to Minnesota for surgery. There are all sorts of reasons that would compel one to fly.

        More importantly, I can “choose not to accept totalitarian thuggery”. How about that?

        Anyway, it’s not a valid argument. How about these examples: “Well, I know your Islamic militants knocked down your buildings, but you can choose not to have buildings.” “Well, I know your car was stolen, but you can choose not to have a car.” “Well, I know your daughter was murdered, but you could have chosen not to have children.”

  2. RevEng says:

    Thank you, Mr. Michael Roberts! You are a courageous man to deny the TSA what they think is their right to photograph, detain, and interrogate us.

    We need more people to realize they can stand up to the TSA. Every time they detain an innocent dissenter, it undermines their power. If enough people refuse and we see them for the blight to security, safety, and freedom that they are, the government will have to change its tune. The government won’t let up until it becomes a political black eye.

    Even in this age of fear-mongering and war-mongering, we have a right to freedom and a right to decency. Don’t let the government take that away from you.

  3. airshowfan says:

    To me, the craziest thing is to put a PILOT through security theater, since a pilot doesn’t need to smuggle anything in if they want to kill everyone on board. This has been pointed out by commenters above, and also by Patrick “Ask the Pilot” Smith:

    http://www.salon.com/technology/ask_the_pilot/2008/07/11/askthepilot283/print.html

    http://www.salon.com/technology/ask_the_pilot/2005/06/10/askthepilot140/print.html

    Something I didn’t know until I followed the link just now from the 2007 article to the 2005 one: “The requirement that pilots and flight attendants undergo checkpoint screening was imposed by the FAA after the crash of a Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) flight in 1987. A recently fired ground worker, David Burke, used his credentials, which the airline had failed to recover, to carry a concealed handgun onto flight 1771 from Los Angeles to San Francisco. En route, he shot both pilots and nosed the airplane into the ground near Harmony, Calif., killing all 44 on board”. Still doesn’t make sense for the pilots, though.

  4. redesigned says:

    things have gotten really far out of hand. i’ve had fingernail clippers confiscated! a laptop makes a better weapon then fingernail clippers. a fist full of keys is more dangerous as well. they would never dream of taking away keys or a laptop though. much of this is bs.

    i’ve flown out of small airports with almost no security, and connected to larger airports. i could have had anything on me.

    anybody with serious malicious intent can find a way to circumvent such a complex and distributed system.

    much of this only provides an illusion of security at best.

    John F. Kennedy said all someone needs is a willingness to trade his life for the President’s, if that is true then the same applies to this sort of situation.

    the truth is we are never really secure or safe no matter how many freedoms we give up, all we can do is choose how we live and the quality of that life. personally i choose freedom over subjugation.

    it is that same types of lack of freedom and subjugation that creates the breeding ground for terrorism in the first place. does anyone think happy free people choose to blow themselves and others up?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Just wanted to post a body scanner image that was posted in another thread this guy made on the pilot’s forum:

    http://img843.imageshack.us/img843/350/bodyscanpic.jpg

    Pretty detailed, huh?

  6. redesigned says:

    there are many ways to travel, and air-travel is merely the most convenient.

    BS. That same argument could be made about boats, cars, walking, etc. What forms of travel do you consider a right? There are lots of freedoms that you could claim aren’t inalienable rights that I would still fight to keep. Not all of us are so eager to give away all of our freedoms for the illusion of security.

  7. SporkWielder says:

    @ bob cooley (#43)

    Is travel by car, train, boat, motorcycle not a right either, or is just flying that’s not a right? The amount of public money that has gone into airline terminals and bailouts for said airlines makes flying just as public as walking down the street, which we both agree is also a right.

  8. Brian S. says:

    I seem to remember reading something relevant to this…

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    • Gyrofrog says:

      Well, that’s just it, what’s “unreasonable?” “I know it when I see it?” My brother-in-law has suggested that this is the real intent of airport security, drug tests, and so forth. If we become acclimated to it, it is no longer “unreasonable.”

  9. optuser says:

    Although ExpressJet’s website advertises themselves as a private charter service, the pilot in question is likely part of the air carrier part of ExpressJet that operates as Continental Express. Private aircraft charters typically do not board aircraft through airline terminals (and TSA security).

    Before this incident took place this guy had already decided his “freedom” was worth more than his job. He’s obviously prepared to live with the consequences of losing his job. I don’t agree with his reasoning but I support his right to refuse a pat-down and leave the terminal. Getting into an argument with screeners and law enforcement is pointless.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Nation wide sleeper cell organizes by getting cab driver jobs and or bus driver jobs, maybe both and some railway / subway conductors. Be really clever with the plan & everyone detonates at prime metropolitan locations. Who needs a plane?

    Backscatter scans at airports will save us from the jabberwock!

    I haven’t had any bad experiences at airports yet, but the backscatter or thorough inspection by someone I don’t know just makes me uncomfortable. I just want to fly somewhere, leave me alone.

  11. sic transit gloria C.F.A. says:

    Ok, I’ve been thinking about this on and off all day, because I’ll be in a similar position two days from now (except I’m not a pilot).

    It seems to me that, odious though they are, these machines and the alternative pat-down do serve a legitimate purpose. Suppose someone decides to blow up a plane. They seal some explosives inside plastic so they can’t be sniffed, and put some down each pants leg, inside their undies, etc. The metal detector wouldn’t catch that.

    Now: it may well be that most of the TSA grunts don’t know the above rationale and are just following orders; it’s quite likely that some of them like to abuse their power and make people respect their authoritah; and there’s not much anyone can do about it until enough people get mad enough to pressure Congress to change the laws. I’m also under the impression that some European countries have managed fine so far without such measures.

    Nevertheless, given the above possibly legitimate rationale for the scanning, can we rationally tell them “no”?

    As I said, I’m boarding a plane in two days, so I’d like to hear some thoughts on the issue. Note, those like Grimnir, I said “thought”, not reason- and evidence-free ranting.

    • sapere_aude says:

      MythBusters recently demonstrated that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to conceal any odor-producing substance in such a way that a trained sniffer dog can’t find it. Put bomb-sniffing dogs at all airport security checkpoints, and you have no legitimate need for a body scanner or pat down to find explosives.

  12. insert says:

    So we agree airport “security” is silly and a waste of time/$/etc. So what do we do about it?

    (No snark intended. Seriously, what is to be done about it? Shall I write a letter to my congressperson?)

    • dw_funk says:

      Having just read Little Brother while flying last weekend, this is relevant to my interests.

      The difference is that Mr. Doctorow kindly invented a charismatic lead character and a dramatic situation enabling that character to act as a perfect leader. Not to mention a powerful media figure who wasn’t in bed with the press. And a public that was actually pissed off enough to do something about it instead of a populace more interested in preventing the New Red Scare.

      What can we do? Probably not a good goddamn thing, as far as I can tell. The security theater is, ultimately, not the sort of thing that gets blood boiling in your average taxpayer. And good luck finding a politician willing to talk about walking back this TSA stuff. At some point, we will get Mad As Hell and We Won’t Take It Anymore, but I have a feeling it’ll be a lot uglier, in every single way, before that happens, and it’ll probably be too late.

  13. Aloisius says:

    I take issue with the fact that backscatter devices are totally ok, but flying naked (or at least passing through security naked), isn’t.

    If I’m going to have my privacy violated, then I demand everyone be witness.

  14. Marilyn Terrell says:

    Thanks Xeni for posting this. There are discussions going on about this incident over on Jalopnik and Elliott.org.

    I like the comment from sapere_aude who brings up a reasonable alternative to these invasive procedures– employ more dogs:

    “MythBusters recently demonstrated that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to conceal any odor-producing substance in such a way that a trained sniffer dog can’t find it. Put bomb-sniffing dogs at all airport security checkpoints, and you have no legitimate need for a body scanner or pat down to find explosives.”

  15. vetnoir says:

    “It’s happened multiple times before why should we not seek to prevent it from happening again?”

    We did. we installed secured Cockpit doors. And just what has prevented the last few terrorist attacks in the US on airplanes? Oh that’s right THE PASSENGERS. Not the TSA, not airline staff. People like you and me.

    What I would like to see is other pilots stand up like this. Betcha that would change things real quick…

  16. Antinous / Moderator says:

    When anyone scans you or pats you down, leer. Stare them right in the eyes or right in the crotch and make little, satisfied mewling noises. Answer every question in a Barry White voice. If they want to violate your privacy and dignity, give them innuendo with both barrels.

  17. jenjen says:

    The body-scanning machines they just installed at San Diego are branded “Rapiscan” which is pretty accurate as far as I can tell. Who thought that name was a good idea?

  18. Anonymous says:

    He’s piloting a 500MPH missle. What the hell is he going to take onboard that will do less damage?

  19. ackpht says:

    Judging from pilots’ letters I’ve read in Aviation Week over the last couple of decades, security screening of pilots is an absurd invasion of their privacy, and videotaping their activities in the cockpit would be an unreasonable imposition and a violation of their rights.

    But they have no objections to the same measures being applied to their passengers.

  20. geessebeschleier says:

    Being employed with an airline i hear these “TSA stories” on a regular basis (and it’s not always the TSA but other non-US agencies as well.My personal experience with airline security : a farce.
    Here’s one of my favourites, a captain (747-400) saw a milk frother he had just purchased confiscated for it could be disassembled and the metal “rod” used to poke someone’s eyes out.
    My problem with most of these so-called security checks are that they are useless and ,worst of all, usually performed by uneducated bullies with an attitude and a uniform , uniform they have often been refused by police or armed forces.
    My personal experience a few weeks ago, i spend quite some time outdoors and the backpack (hand luggage) i was traveling with still contained a large folding knife (in a side pocket) i had forgotten about, checked three times before i boarded the plane (of which one full scan).You guessed it , no reaction.I myself noticed it once arrived at destination and looking for a pen in that same backpack. But the story isn’t over yet.Flying home , i made sure the knife was left with a friend to avoid any trouble as i was flying from a very “secured” airport.All went fine , arriving at home and emptying the backpack i was very surprised to find a full metal survival card (credit card sized with a sharpened edge).
    I have countless more stories , including one flying in the same sort of conditions on a long haul cargo flight with my luggage,on a jump seat, in the cockpit after being scanned and checked by the Bundesgrenzschutz in Germany.
    BTW, have you ever heard about any incidents on El Al flights ?
    Not since the 70′s and Entebbe, a long time before 9/11.
    The story with pilots is that they usually get through security without any sort of checks, and when i say pilots i mean any personnel wearing a uniform, which in my eyes is wrong, as it is just too easy to get your hands on a uniform and a flight case if you mean harm.
    Checks yes, but by people with a smile and proper training/education.

    I agree 200 % with posters who mentioned about intimidation and just love the pilots mail signature (which i will adopt).
    I strongly believe this whole security stunt is just a part of a wider scheme to keep us scared and keep the security industry going.

  21. Nonentity says:

    I went through similar in Atlanta recently. The pat-down I received when I opted out was quite thorough, but not wasn’t exceptionally uncomfortable.

    What *was* uncomfortable was that they pulled my luggage off the conveyor after it went through the x-ray machine, opened everything up, and proceeded to swab and test every single pocket in the several bags involved. This took at least twice as long as the pat-down did, and it’s obviously security theater – how does my refusing the body scanner make my luggage any more dangerous than anyone else who automatically submits?

  22. DisneyBoy says:

    I would like to know if the people in charge of creating these rules are subject to these searches and privacy invasions themselves.

    Do they have to be seen naked? Are their genitals touched? Is their bottle of water or tube of toohpaste thrown away?

  23. Kickstart says:

    Holy cow. Some of the people in these comments and the forums would seem perfectly at home with saying “Rosa Parks should have gone to the back of the bus and wrote a letter when she got home”.

    Come on!

    • redesigned says:

      awesome point and spot on! i agree 100%. those same people would make the argument that riding in the front of the bus or being able to ride on the bus at all is not an inalienable right.

      scary how brainwashed some folks are.

      it sad what has happened to “the land of the free and the home of the brave”, when they let their fear justify giving up freedom.

  24. Chrs says:

    The short version is missing that he also refused the patdown search that, apparently, follows usually after you refuse the backscatter scanner.

  25. Brainspore says:

    I don’t like the idea of going through one of these things and I’ve been to more than one nude beach on occasion. I can barely imagine how humiliating it be for a conservative Muslim woman or a pre-op (if that’s still the right term) transsexual.

    • Anonymous says:

      Speaking as a transsexual, I don’t much want anybody grabbing my crotch, either.

      I really don’t think they expect any enhanced security from these measures. The /point/ is the viewing. They look/grope in order to look and grope. This is an assertion of power, where we are divided into those who watch and those who are watched. Things like the male gaze are extended, not by side effect, but by design. Therefore, it’s not an accident that this sucks for people who have unusual bodies because of weight, disability, hottness or being transsexual. Making it suck for non-standard people is part of why they do it. It furthers inequality and enhances power relations for authority. The security theatre is entirely successful at its actual goals.

      • teufelsdroch says:

        @23 anon–

        I agree that this was entirely a power struggle:

        “We’re TSA, we can tell you what to do.”

        “I’m a pilot, go fuck yourself.”

        “No really, we’re TSA, we can tell you what to do. You’re fired.”

  26. Anonymous says:

    What the TSA fails to realize is that DEATH is the DEFAULT OPTION once the airplane leaves the ground. Without a conscious and concerted effort by the pilots to land the plane, everybody dies. Period.

    The ONLY way this kind of searching could be even REMOTELY justified is if a pilot impersonator were using a pilot’s uniform to attempt to get past security measures. And THAT doesn’t require a body scanner, it only requires robust two-factor authentication (something you have, and something you know).

  27. brianary says:

    Can’t anyone get *any* other pics from these machines?

    The two or three available are obviously chosen and shrunk down to make everyone feel better about these scanners. I’d like to know what these things truly show of us.

    I guess I’ll have to make my passage through one contingent upon me getting to take my own pic of the screen, then release it CC or PD.

    • pmocek says:

      Can’t anyone get *any* other pics from these machines?

      The two or three available are obviously chosen and shrunk down to make everyone feel better about these scanners. I’d like to know what these things truly show of us.

      Lots of us have repeatedly tried, but no, we can’t get full-resolution samples. TSA’s blogger, Curtis “Blogger Bob” Burns, left the following comment on their blog earlier this year:

      You guys are killing me (and others) with this. These pictures were provided to TSA by the vendor. I have never claimed they are the exact size and resolution that our officers see. I have provided video examples showing what our officers see. I have requested the resolution and size and was told it was proprietary information that I could not release. I’m still looking into being able to get that info for you, but I can’t promise anything.

      Thanks,

      Blogger Bob
      TSA Blog Team

      February 3, 2010 1:22 PM

      That comment seems to have gone missing since, but it has been quoted repeatedly on the blog, and I’ve started a thread on FlyerTalk Forums (where lots of discussion about TSA happens; see also the Michael Roberts thread) to discuss what might have happened.

      Also, note that what the TSA staff see when using the electronic strip search machines is not a still image, but a 3D animation of the search subject rotating. This provides a lot more perception of detail than a still image would. See http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=972_1262283908 for a sample.

  28. retchdog says:

    Right, because the way that a pilot would cause damage to his aircraft and passengers is by bringing on an explosive. Think hard about that, and then try to convince me that this isn’t all an exercise in social conditioning.

    • Anonymous says:

      The stupid thing is that pilots have access to emergency equipment…like fire-axes and flare-guns once they are on the aircraft. What happened to him is inexcusable–once he had been properly identified as a pilot (biometric ID’s would probably make sense to ease the paranoid) he should have been permitted to go aboard. After all, the TSA is supposedly trying to stop people from using the actual aircraft as a weapon, something that a pilot can do quite handily once aboard. Hmmm…maybe they’ll ban pilots from flying because they represent an unacceptable risk.

    • Anonymous says:

      A pilot could smuggle a weapon or explosive in to a secure area and then pass it off to a passenger. That passenger could use it to bring down a different flight. Pilots can be religious nut-cases, or compromised through bribes, just like anyone else. I’m sure there are a lot more of them who would be willing to take a weapon in to a secure area, and hand it off, than there are who would be willing to crash their own plane.

      If you think about, it makes a lot more sense for a terrorist organization to train up a single pilot who can then theoretically enable the downing of thousands of aircraft (one for everyday he goes to work) then it does to go through all the trouble and expense of training up a pilot only to have him kill himself when he crashes his own plane.

      • retchdog says:

        @71, no, the best “strategy,” as long as we’re living in a hellish fantasy land where al-Qaeda can influence anyone into committing horrible acts, would be to infiltrate the TSA. A few mid-high-level agents plus a handful of screeners across the country would potentially do a hell of a lot more damage than a few pilots.

        Anyway, these and all other such fantasies are all ridiculous corner cases, and that’s the point.

    • sgenius says:

      Apparently the point has not been taken by the authorities. Isn’t that kind of “pilot power” why now all of these policies exist?

    • TooGoodToCheck says:

      If I were trying to come up with a movie plot threat that involved a pilot smuggling weapons / explosives on to an airplane, I would go with the following:

      1) a pilot is sympathetic to the cause, but not sympathetic enough to kill himself
      -Or-
      1b) a pilot is loyal to the cause, but his handlers have determined that he’s too valuable to sacrifice

      2) the pilot, using his clearance to bypass security brings weapons for his co-conspirators. They are more standard issue shady dudes – they even have to go through secondary screening; but the screening finds nothing, because they come in clean

      3) the pilot drops the weapons somewhere in the airport secure zone, where the conspirators know to find them. He goes on his uneventful flight, while the shady dudes get on a different flight to wreak havoc with six ounce bottles of contact lens solution or whatever.

    • Lucifer says:

      no kidding… let’s think real hard for a moment about how a pilot might have the magical means to bring down a plane without a weapon if he wanted to… and then see how seeing his naked x-ray picture could ever prevent that from happening.

      • Marilyn Terrell says:

        I liked Lucifer’s comment #20:
        let’s think real hard for a moment about how a pilot might have the magical means to bring down a plane without a weapon if he wanted to… and then see how seeing his naked x-ray picture could ever prevent that from happening.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is what I thought!!!

      If we can’t trust the pilot, then bugger the whole deal!

  29. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think this is proper grounds to fire a person. I also hated having to undergo the “naked” scan, but if I’d refused in Azerbaijan, i’m certain the language divide coupled with their general paranoia would’ve landed me in detention for at least a few hours. And frisking is possibly even more gross and violative.
    However.
    If you can refuse the “naked” scan, and then refuse your second option of a personal frisk, you can’t expect to simply walk away without consequence. Am I missing something? Pilot or no, this is one of the dreadfully unpleasant consequences of the immense freedom we have to travel the world, and let (most) people on a plane when they want to get on one.

    • Anonymous says:

      Michael here. Dude, before all this happened I just thought I was going to go home, lose my job, and that’d be the end of it and I would have to go drive a forklift or something, if there are any jobs to be had even.

      Guess I tapped a nerve in our society. Glad to see you guys really are awake. Now, please don’t wait around for the courts or me or anyone else to resolve this. Make it stop right now – this week. Take your money and go home, drive, sail, whatever – but don’t fly if this is what they’re going to put you through. Freedom has never come without a cost, and it’s time to pony up. By the time this gets to the courts I want it to be a simple matter of recording YOUR verdict in the chronicles for posterity. Then even if the courts go against us, it just won’t matter.

      Also, here’s an hour long radio interview I did on Don Cooper’s show about economics and stuff that lays it all out better than has been done anywhere else so far: http://bit.ly/a41ofd

      You guys get it. Everyone seems to almost. So I keep asking, if everyone hates these goons so much, why was this ever allowed to happen? We fell asleep. So wake up and help me shut it down right now, and let’s stop being a nation of lazy sheep. It’s a small price to pay, considering the alternative.

      Oh, and here’s a link to the letter my coworkers and I sent to management, which they ignored: http://bit.ly/9JFaAS. It has a pic of the real deal per someone’s request above. Pass all this around, please. We’ll wrap it all up very soon because some obscure guy with an Internet connection was able to reach out to millions of his closest friends and neighbors and speak the truth right past the walls of oppression that are being built all around us. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s not a lost cause – far from it!

  30. bcsizemo says:

    I wonder how much trouble a carbon fiber chastity belt would land you in? (Cause it obviously couldn’t be metal if you are going through the metal detector first.)

  31. houplagrundle says:

    what would they do if he said “you want to see it here it is” and stripped off?

    which would be my inclination

  32. Anonymous says:

    Xeni, I hope you’ll post a follow-up report to this, if indeed the guy gets fired. I hope it will include contact information as to where we can send letters to his corporation, to complain about this. These “porn scanners” are a violation of all of our rights, and we all need to protest against them. Neither of the main political parties are going to help us with this. We just need more people like this guy, and we need to show our support for him.

    I wish there were some political way we could roll back the TSA but until that becomes possible, we need to do what this guy did, and support such people.

  33. redesigned says:

    so the only two options are for them to see your bits or to touch your bits? seriously? talk about flying the friendly skys!

    Right, because the way that a pilot would cause damage to his aircraft and passengers is by bringing on an explosive. Think hard about that

    excellent point! the pilots and air marshals are the people we place all our trust in. did they confirm that he was who he said he was? I’d hate to think someone who wasn’t a pilot could get a uniform and bypass security measures.

  34. jmzero says:

    Yeah – I’ve often wondered what a pilot would be sneaking on board that would be a problem. I understand they still have a crash axe in the cockpit for emergencies; it seems like that would be enough to take control of the plane for some nefarious purpose. And from there they can crash the plane (possibly into something).

    What else were they going to do up there? Infringe some copyrights?

  35. Anonymous says:

    I prefer the translation of “Malo Periculosam Libertatem Quam Quietum Servitium” as “Prefer freedom with danger than slavery with security” personally.

  36. Woody McBreairty says:

    The terrorists are not winning…they have won. They have restricted our freedoms & imposed on our privacy and our lives like we never thought possible. We are entering Orwellian times, when Big Brother is consuming our lives – we are now numbers, our every movement is elecronically monitored and our “freedoms of speech & choice” are no longer existent. These are scary times – the terrorists are controlling our lives and our freedoms – and it will only get worse. “We have met the enemy, and I think he is us….” God help us all

    • knoxblox says:

      “The terrorists are not winning…they have won. They have restricted our freedoms & imposed on our privacy and our lives like we never thought possible. We are entering Orwellian times, when Big Brother is consuming our lives – we are now numbers, our every movement is elecronically monitored and our “freedoms of speech & choice” are no longer existent. These are scary times – the terrorists are controlling our lives and our freedoms – and it will only get worse. “We have met the enemy, and I think he is us….” God help us all”

      If you ask me, I think the multinational corporations have scored the most points so far.

    • Goblin says:

      The terrorists are not winning…they have won. They have restricted our freedoms & imposed on our privacy and our lives like we never thought possible. We are entering Orwellian times, when Big Brother is consuming our lives – we are now numbers, our every movement is elecronically monitored and our “freedoms of speech & choice” are no longer existent. These are scary times – the terrorists are controlling our lives and our freedoms – and it will only get worse. “We have met the enemy, and I think he is us….” God help us all

      Who the Tea party or the Executive Branch?

  37. Anonymous says:

    With the prices that tabloids would pay, it is INEVITABLE that we’ll see celebrities’ “nude” photos leaked at some point in the future.

    You think that if TSA agents get to scan Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, they’ll say to to getting fired and selling the photo for a million dollars?

  38. teapot says:

    To those who are happy with this treatment of a pilot;
    Should we start drug testing judges, Senators and The President?

    Any suggestion that a pilot would ‘hand-off’ weapons to other people is pure fiction (and probably a true sign that you have been effectively indoctrinated with the right level of paranoia to keep you cooperative).

    Yes, a pilot could do those things… but I find it unlikely that anyone would think they could get away with it without being tracked down after the event considering the amount of security cameras in most airports. 9/11 involved no explosives or serious weapons. Why are TSA so worried about it? Oh yeah, they’re not. They’re just low IQ, low paid jerks trying to pass time and get a power trip.

  39. rebdav says:

    I was recently talking to a retired family member who worked for the airlines in the 70′s. Back then they would verify any firearms that you declared in your carry on luggage were unloaded.
    Just think how helpful that was to Capt. Kirk when that horned albino gorilla was trying to do inflight maintinence on his plane.
    Theres something on the wiiiing! Some thiiiing on the wiiiing!

    • retchdog says:

      There’s gremlins on the starboard bow! Starboard bow! Starboard bow! Shoot ‘em off, Captain!

      (yeah, I think he was actually on the port side, but whatever)

  40. sixta says:

    A bit off topic:

    But nudity ≠ porn
    Can we stop calling it “the porn machine”

  41. Anonymous says:

    Why are you using the official, way outdated images of what these scanners look like, instead of the newer shots that are much more accurate? You should check out how much more accurate they are, it’s frightening.

  42. rbean says:

    I continue to be amazed at how poorly trained the TSA people seem to be when it comes to anything even slightly out of the ordinary. If you’re allowed to “opt-out”, they should know how to handle it. There’s no need for them to panic. And unless they’ve been living under a rock, they should know that this stuff is controversial.

    The other interesting part of this story was the investigator who asked if they’d had “any exchange of words.” Well, yeah, he talked to them. Was he supposed to use sign language?

    • Micah says:

      It’s not panic. They purposely make a big deal of the opt-outs for a few reasons. They want to remind everyone within ear shot that security theater is Serious Business. They try to embarrass the guy who opts out in front of the sheeple waiting being him for their strip search so that maybe the guy won’t opt out next time, and so the sheeple will also think twice about opting out.

      But EVERYONE should be opting out of the nude-o-scope.

  43. culturemulch says:

    I have an artificial hip and get patted down EVERY TIME I go through security. A pilot can get patted down once in a while.

    • Anonymous says:

      When you “opt-out” of the backscatter machine, the “pat down” you get is not like the one you’ve probably experienced. It is an enhanced pat-down. I believe it is meant as a form of intimidation. I experienced one at the United terminal at O’Hare, as did two others (a man and a woman) in line with me. For some reason, even though some people were being put through the traditional metal detector, once I “opted out” of the backscatter machine I was NOT ALLOWED TO WALK THROUGH THE METAL DETECTOR! I have no idea why. The “pat down” was not performed in any restricted area. During the pat-down, the TSA jackboot thug squeezed my testicles. Why? I have no idea. I was shaken up by the experience, but didn’t really know how to process it. After he squeezed my testicles, he rubbed his hand over my testicles (again), into the area between my testicles and my anus, and THEN over my face and chest. His gloves were then swabbed by another TSA moron and the swabs were scanned for explosives residue.

      If/when it happens again, I am filing sexual assault charges. These TSA people are not police officers. They do not have warrants. They do not have reasonable suspicion to grab testicles. I did not consent to any of that treatment, there was no warrant, no reasonable suspicion (and a constitutionally acceptable pat-down on reasonable suspicion is much less intrusive than the TSA version), and to top it all off THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT EVEN LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS. This is intimidation, and nothing more.

      What really gets me is that this is all theatre. If they were serious about preventing terrorism, they would have a line of dogs that sniff people for explosives or weapons and they would do the dusting test for residue.

      • epi_mom says:

        Wow, that’s very different than what I experienced in Vancouver. They patted me down quickly—it was not invasive at all. I have to say, they weren’t surprised I refused the scan; our entire line was selected to be scanned, and I only saw one person opt to actually go through with it.

        True groping, though? Seriously not cool.

  44. Goblin says:

    If you’re allowed to “opt-out”, they should know how to handle it. There’s no need for them to panic.

    No this isn’t the TSA’s fault. The pilot was offered two alternates and he refused those as well. No yellow slide or media uproar this martyr, just a pink slip.

    • redesigned says:

      he was only give two options, to show his bits or have them touch his bits. can they do body cavity searches without cause as well?

      am i the only person who wonders if any of those three things are crossing the line when done to innocent people without cause?

      i just saw a national geographic special on columbian drug submarines, and in the special they talked about how airport officials in columbia use profiling and can select anyone and require them to take a full body x-ray to see if they are muleing drugs.

      i wonder how far these sort of things have to go before people decide that enough is enough, or that things have gone too far?

      • Goblin says:

        he was only give two options

        Three: Scan, Touch, Show. Touch and Show being the two alternatives he was offered as an opt-out.

        am i the only person who wonders if any of those three things are crossing the line when done to innocent people without cause?

        Isn’t getting on a plane cause enough? security searches are demanded by those who fly. Would you feel safe if there was no security whatsoever? You may say you feel safe, but in the back of your mind there will always be that nagging doubt: What-if? It’s happened multiple times before why should we not seek to prevent it from happening again?

        i wonder how far these sort of things have to go before people decide that enough is enough, or that things have gone too far

        I agree in part, some stuff the government has done as of late really has gone too far, but I hardly see the logic behind “privacy concerns” when we are only dealing with a ritualistic pass though the security gate, that truly exists in the interests of safety of all those flying. Especially since there are opt-outs that use other methods.

        • Anonymous says:

          “It’s happened multiple times before why should we not seek to prevent it from happening again?”

          What’s to prevent it from happening even with the “improved” security measures? The majority of the ones that are stopped are stopped _before_ getting to the airport. There are plenty of dangerous items that still get onto planes. Hell, Woz is known to smuggle steak knives on damn near every flight he takes. But seriously, these security measures _don’t actually help_. The _ONLY_ thing they do is make people _FEEL_ more secure. A real terrorist could probably get around them pretty easily.

          Hell, I’ve brought “banned” items on flights before. I have a friend who brings full bottles of shampoo and toiletries on every flight, never takes them out of his bag, and they’re _never_ found. Not once. And he flies quite frequently. So clearly the liquids limit doesn’t work at all. The ban on knives doesn’t work at all. And when anyone with half a brain could improvise a deadly weapon out of a camera or two, what the hell is the point anyway?

          So no, the new security measures don’t make me feel safer. Actually, the only thing they do is make me avoid flying. If anything, they make me feel _less_ safe.

          Of course, the thing that _really_ scares me about flying isn’t the terrorists. It’s the airlines. For example, a flight I was on about a year ago – we were on the runway, the engines were powering up, we were about to go…and then they tell us ‘oh hey, we just discovered that the hydraulics aren’t working, so we can’t leave yet’. The plane was on the runway and about to take off before they discovered _it was broken!_. And then they made us sit there in the plane for 5 hours. Then we had to sit in the terminal overnight. Then they finally tell us they can’t get us home for a week, but they’ll only pay for two nights at the hotel…etc.

          Whenever I have a choice, I’ll take a train. More comfortable, and no security _at all_. And unless you’re going the entire way across the country, it’ll probably be faster too.

  45. alllie says:

    I wonder how much of what we suffer these days has less to do with security or safety and more to do with insurance.

    If, say, a student gives another student an aspirin and the second student is allergic and becomes ill, the school may be sued. Is this why “zero tolerance” includes even acetaminophen and aspirin and not just illegal drugs? Do insurance companies insist in these ridiculous rules before they will insure schools and so the schools have no choice?

    Do police and even TSA treat people so badly because insurance companies insist on it as a condition of their insuring police officers or airlines? Not that they even care about safety but if a police officer is injured on duty he/she might get workman’s compensation for life. Is that the danger that the police are instructed to avoid? If a passenger gets on a plane with…what, a plastic knife, and injures or kills even one person, that could cost the airline’s insurance carrier a lot.

    Are we losing our freedom not for security, but to ensure the profits of insurance companies?

    • Anonymous says:

      alllie (with 3 L’s)

      It’s not the insurance companies, it’s the lawyers and the law. As long as airlines, security firms, fellow passengers and the govt are fearful of lawsuits for not providing enough security, the intrusive security will remain.

  46. porkchop says:

    I opted-out of the “naked scan” at LAX and it was no big deal to them. They just gave me a pat-down, which I was fine with.

    Security theater annoys me, but getting a pat-down was the better of the two options.

    I feel bad for the pilot.

  47. sapere_aude says:

    Some of the previous commenters seem to be missing the point: The outrage here is not that a PILOT is being forced to endure the same ludicrous and invasive security screening procedures that everyone else must endure. The outrage is that ANYONE has to endure these ludicrous and invasive procedures. They are unnecessary; they don’t really contribute anything to the actual safety of airline passengers (they only contribute to the perception of safety); they actually play into the hands of the terrorists, who want us to be afraid and to overreact; and they are a violation of our most fundamental rights to privacy. Secure cockpit doors, proper training for flight crews, metal detectors (to detect guns), X-ray scans of luggage, and bomb-sniffing dogs are the only security measures necessary to make airlines reasonably safe against terrorism. (Note that I said reasonably safe, not 100% safe — because you’re never going to achieve 100% safety, even if you require all passengers to board the plane naked and in handcuffs.) Body scans, pat downs, etc. are simply not necessary for airline security; they are clear violations of privacy; and they help keep the fear of terrorism alive in the minds of the traveling public — which is exactly what the terrorists want.

  48. Chong says:

    I once read a story of a pilot who had a pencil in his top pocket. This was confiscated, but not before he reminded whoever it was confiscating it about the axe in the cockpit.

    On a barely related note, on a flight from the UK to Spain, me and my brother (I would have been about 8) were asked if we would like to go into the cockpit for a look around, a la Airplane (no Turkish prison jokes though). In we went, met the pilot, were told some hazy shapes in the distance were in fact mountains, were told a few token facts about the plane, and had a few of the instruments explained to us.
    All this not much more than a decade ago. How times have changed.

  49. Anonymous says:

    From all this I understand:

    Freedom will be possible only by loosing freedom> that equals to nonsense.
    And again nonsense is more common that common sense.
    So common sense is becoming nonsense.
    And majority of people will just agree with what?
    So nonsense masses of humans will end up where?

    Would you like me to answer that?

  50. jcolvin says:

    Perhaps if you have a phobia about people touching you then airline pilot is not the best job. I don’t see how a mandatory pat-down if you refuse a scan is the signal of the end of freedom.

    • macegr says:

      But surely, patting down the airplane driver for weapons they might use to hijack the airplane could signal the end of sanity. And where sanity is absent, freedom is not far behind.

      As stated in many of the above comments, all pilots have access to a nice sharp axe, and 12,000 of them carry handguns. Surely they can’t hide anything more dangerous betwixt their thighs?

  51. OrcOnTheEndOfMyFork says:

    I wonder how long it will take for a terrorist to stuff a bomb up his anus and try to light that on a plane? Will people finally complain when the mandatory cavity search is implemented? It’s almost to the point where prisoners get treated with more dignity than airplane passengers.

  52. Anonymous says:

    I just thought this bore repeating:

    “Restricting travel rights is Fascism 101.”

  53. Anonymous says:

    Captcha ate my submission. Again:
    These machines give a radiation dose that has not been independently verified and the frequency/ methods of calibration of these machines is unknown. There is no safe radiation dose (particularly for children and pregnant women). Radiation doses are cumulative; no one is monitoring cumulative doses.
    All passengers should be given this information and given an alternative to the xray that is not punitive or designed to intimidate.

    Donate to flyer’s rights
    http://www.flyersrights.org/

  54. Crispinus211 says:

    I appreciate the pilot’s struggle, but not his Latin. Actually, it doesn’t appear to be his Latin: I don’t know whose, but it’s all over the internet.

    Malo Periculosam Libertatem Quam Quietum Servitium (“I prefer liberty with danger to servitude in peace” — not, strictly speaking, “peace with slavery,” as translated above).

    When preferring one noun to another, better to use a verb like anteponere, and to place the noun more in the accusative, and the noun less preferred in the dative. Thus:

    malo periculosam libertatem quieto servitio quieto.

    For added emphasis, one might place the adjectives after the nouns. If ma(vo)lo is to be used, better to use it with verbs:

    malo vivere liber sub periculo quam servire in pace (“I prefer living free in danger than to be a slave in peace”).

    Sorry for the pedantry, but if we’re going to strengthen the cause with Latin, let’s try for better.

    • Robert says:

      To be fair, that wasn’t his Latin, but Rousseau’s, quoting the Palatine of Posnania, Stanislas Leszczynski (The Social Contract).

      • Crispinus211 says:

        Thank you, Robert: if the Latin is that iconic, it should stand. (But I wish Rousseau could have let it flow more.)

  55. Francesco Fondi says:

    Wow! So USA still use the body scanners?!
    As far as I see travelling around the World every other country stopped using em (sometimes after a short test period).

    • jgs says:

      Wow! So USA still use the body scanners?!
      As far as I see travelling around the World every other country stopped using em

      Please tell that to the guy in Amsterdam who wouldn’t let me opt out around March or so. At least last time I went through AMS they had gotten their shit together on the opt-out. I saved one of their flyers for later reference.

      Security at AMS tends to be more professional and less risibly about chest-thumping and poo-flinging, but in my experience it’s no less arbitrary than in the US of A. Unfortunately.

  56. Anonymous says:

    As a UK citizen who is also tired of and horrified by the loss of our civil liberties, I found this shocking and have read it and the related threads in some depth, including forum posts on expressjetpilots.com and the comments to this pilot’s letter to a local newspaper (http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/sep/22/letter6/)

    Apart from the libertarian issues, and some of the crazy, ignorant and insulting responses there, what has also shocked me is the level of racism I’ve seen. As far as I am concerned, calling Barack Obama “Mullah Obama” or “Mullah Mullah” is racism. As are comments like these:

    “I agree with you that profiling would be a more effective way of protecting us from a culture that truly wants to harm us”

    “This is what your PC has brought us. We now must search everyone even though we know the precise type of identity that is trying to harm us”

    “As long as we keep targeting grandmothers and children so that muslims can’t say we are picking on them, security will be a joke”

  57. SporkWielder says:

    “Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state has become lawless or corrupt. And a citizen who barters with such a state shares in its corruption and lawlessness.”

    -Gandhi

    Good on ya, Mr. Roberts.

  58. Master Pokes says:

    I’m sorry, but I just can’t get behind the overall attitude I perceive here, which is that this guy was wronged or subjected to something against his rights. I am a fairly militant civil libertarian and often the first to get on the bandwagon to bitch about erosions of our liberties. It’s a serious problem in our country at the moment. But the fact is that driving a car and traveling by plane are NOT rights. They are privileges subject to meeting standards set by our elected government officials. Sorry, folks.

    In addition, having lived overseas, we’re just now experiencing security that is not unlike it has been elsewhere for some time now. I think ya’ll have white people problems and should quit whining. Seriously.

    Write a letter to your elected officials, but don’t cry about violated rights, ‘cause I’m pretty sure that case is weak.

    To the guy whose nuts got squeezed: Ever seen the Friends episode regarding the tailor who does his inseam measuring with “cuppage?” Yeah, man…it ain’t supposed to be like that. THAT ain’t right.

  59. SporkWielder says:

    jcolvin sez: “I don’t see how a mandatory pat-down if you refuse a scan is the signal of the end of freedom.”

    Then you won’t mind if I stop you on the street and pat you down so you can be on your way? I might take a thing or two that I deem dangerous. You shouldn’t have a problem with it, eh?

    • bob cooley says:

      @SporkWielder (#35)

      The difference is that you have a right to walk a public street.

      Flying on a airlines is not a right, its a travel choice made in a non-public setting. You can choose to not go to the airport.

      • jgs says:

        The difference is that you have a right to walk a public street.

        So, in your view my only travel option that is a right is walking. (By the way, the law takes a dim view of those walking in freeways, although they are publicly funded.)

        Flying on a airlines is not a right, its a travel choice made in a non-public setting.

        The “non-public” thing is still a red herring. Many airports are built with public support. Many are operated by public entities. The TSA is a government organ.

        You can choose to not go to the airport.

        I can choose not to do a lot of things — exercise free speech, bathe, vote, eat, whatever. Your point?

  60. Grimnir says:

    For the truly surprising number of you who support TSA security theatre bullshit like this: fck ff nd d, you unamerican scum. You are the most worthless of all human beings, a traitor to your people and to every good thing in humanity. You forfeit your birthright as a human being when you support tyranny and injustice. Not only that, but even aside from the stupidity of security theatre in general, this is a particularly grievous example of epic bullshit.

    Top 3 reasons you’re an IDIOT:

    1. He’s a fucking PILOT. He has undergone extensive screening, background checks, and psych evaluation. While flying the plane, not only could he choose to kill everyone aboard, he could go crazy with the axe and flare gun and just start murdering individual passengers as well. Additionally, congress has already recognized the problem of and made a procedure for flight crew to bypass security– except neither the pilots union nor the TSA is willing to pony up the $ to implement it.

    2. Have you ever actually seen a baggage handler or a gate attendant or a caterer or a TSA agent going through screening on their way to work? Of course not. Why? Because they aren’t required to pass through screening. They get a separate door to go through, and lack the computerized ID check the flight crew is supposed to get. Any one of them, a ramper making 13 bucks an hour, say, could load a suitcase-sized bomb onto the plane easy as pie. Oh shit, did I just make you afraid to fly all over again? My bad. Fckng chcknsht little ccksckr. Why don’t you go cry in the corner or something and let the adults run the fucking country now?

    3. He went through a metal detector and passed just fine. I mean, at what point is it enough to calm your fears? The whole thing is enormously inconsistent, capricious, and EXACTLY what the terrorists want, since as you might remember are supposed to HATE US FOR OUR FREEDOMS. Go-along-to-get-along I can live with. But if you had the balls to actually support this bullshit to my face I would find it extremely hard to keep myself from assaulting you.

    If you want to make life hard for the TSA for a political cause, next time someone grabs your junk in a patdown, you need to immediately leap back and start making as much noise as you can about molestation. Press charges against the poor fool ‘just doing his job’. “That was not patting, that was stroking!” I swear they will be more embarrassed the louder you are, and the more you talk about sexual assault. Make use of your audience, get loud. Tell them your agent winked and leered at you. Immediately escalate, demand supervisors and LEOs, make a real stink. Sue them if your lawyer thinks you have a case. If you do it more than once they may catch on and you might get in trouble, but if there were enough of a rash of publicized news stories about grope-y TSA, we might be able to bring a little sanity to the system. Also, for maximum effect, you should be white, middle class, and your victim will need to be a man. Preferably a white guy, as black guys have enough problems with the law as it is.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Grimnir,

      Next time, can you concentrate the obscene insults in one part of your comment so I don’t have to pick through the whole thing?

  61. bob cooley says:

    I agree with most of the points here.

    - The TSA screenings are largely Security Theater

    - The X-Ray machines are needlessly intrusive

    I do not agree, however that this is a violations of anyone’s rights or freedoms.

    You can take the scan OR take the pat-down, both of which are great inconveniences, but you can also opt out of both, by not flying.

    Flying privately owned-commercial airlines is NOT protected in the constitution. It is your choice to travel, and your method of travel is your choice as well. You could also take a train – there are no x-ray machines on Amtrak, and they will get you to most places that flights will go. Point is, you choose which inconveniences you will put up with.

    The rules in place for travel are (somewhat) well-established, and anyone who flies frequently has dealt with the ridiculous rules of the TSA time and time again. But no one has ever had the ‘right’ to fly. It’s not inalienable.

    I make this point not because I don’t thing Security Theater is ridiculous – its clearly a mess.

    But to say that it’s a loss of freedom or of anyone’s rights only diminishes any true loss of actual inalienable rights and freedoms.

    And honestly – the pilot should know better. The TSA screening process is not the time or place to make a policy stand. The TSA screeners don’t make the rules – You may not like them, but they are only low-level employees who have no power to enact any policy changes, so why attempt to make a stand on this issue at such an improper venue.

    I don’t really like paying for toll-roads either, but I’m not going to take it up at the booth when I’m on the road.

    The Ghandi quote above is nice, but mis-directed. In this case the pilot wasn’t dealing with the state, he was dealing with low-level enforcement officers in a corporate setting, not a public institution.

    Its important to remember that there are truly those who have never had, have lost, and are losing REAL rights and freedoms in the world – our slight inconvenience in following the rules because you choose to travel via air do not measure up to those to the truly disenfranchised.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bob, you say this was a private corporate setting:

      TSA is a governmental agency.
      Airports are almost always public and publicly funded venues. Airplanes in the sky are guided by federal air traffic controllers over specific and sanctioned routes.

      Even if this took place within an area fully controlled by an airline company, these companies are providing a public amenity that is sanctioned, supported and integrated into public life. Saying someone has a choice to fly in today’s society is absurd. Just like saying someone has a choice whether to leave their home.

      Freedom has no meaning if you need to stay locked in your home in order to exercise it. And what is accomplished by this security theater? You can’t see how far this has gone from “ensuring security”?

    • jgs says:

      Flying privately owned-commercial airlines is NOT protected in the constitution.

      The “privately owned” qualifier is a red herring. The security measures are compelled by the government, the airlines have no ability to opt out of them. If there were an airline that did, they would have a competitive advantage in getting my business.

      In your view is there ANY mode of transportation that is not equally “not a right, but a privilege”? Walking, perhaps.

      Do you have any practical suggestions for those wishing to travel outside of the Americas?

      • bob cooley says:

        @jgs:

        I don’t disagree, and I don’t think its not a pain in the arse. I would prefer not to be screened by either method, either.

        But my point is that flying is NOT an inalienable right. You can choose to not travel, and you will never have to go through the scanner or get a pat-down.

        Traveling overseas (or anywhere) by air is a convenience, and may be necessary for work, to see loved ones, to vacation, but it’s not an inalienable right.

        My point about the space being privately owned isn’t a red herring; its an unfortunate truth – You are not afforded the same rights in a private or semi-private setting (an airport, a shopping mall, a movie theater) that you have on a city (public) street or other public locale.

        This lack of convenience isn’t a lack of loss of rights or freedom and should not be even considered in the same realm as the right to your privacy within your own home, the right to vote, the right to practice the religion of your choice, the right to be treated equally-no matter your color. Calling a lack of convenience a loss of rights diminishes those actual rights.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          You can choose to not travel

          Restricting travel rights is Fascism 101. People have jobs that require travel. They have friends and relatives to visit in far-off places. Have you forgotten the pursuit of happiness?

          • bob cooley says:

            “Have you forgotten the pursuit of happiness?”

            Not at all – but I made the point earlier that there are many ways to travel, and air-travel is merely the most convenient.

            And again, yes I agree that its a pain, and inconvenient – but calling an inconvenience a loss of freedom is a gross overstatement and diminishes the loss of true rights.

          • Anonymous says:

            Oh yes? And what happens if someone blows up a train? What if buses become the new target? Can you see any reason why similar “security” measures won’t be applied to those forms of travel?

            Where does it stop?

            And furthermore, say I want to take the train one day. Say all the same measures have been enacted. Say I decide, hey, no, I’d rather not be seen naked. Say then I’m told, “well, if you want on the train, you’ll have to be frisked.” And I say, “well, I don’t want to be frisked, so I guess I won’t be taking the train today.”

            Forgetting all the other issues with security theater for the moment, the thing that puzzles me is that how you think the proper way for that story to end is being detained and question like a common criminal- in other words, being automatically considered a *threat*. It’s the same old argument- honest men have nothing to fear from the police, and it’s still a lie.

            Even accepting the security theater, why should I just…not take the train? Leave the station?

          • Anonymous says:

            In London they blew up a load of trains and buses. You know what changed after that? Nothing.

            We have the theatre at the airport because they can get away with it. It would cripple a city like New york or London to try and apply airport style security to trains and buses.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            calling an inconvenience a loss of freedom is a gross overstatement and diminishes the loss of true rights.

            Your definition of ‘true rights’ has the quasi-religious tone that I associate with concepts like ‘natural law’. Why is the right to free speech a true right and the right to free travel a frivolity? You seem to have swallowed whole an arbitrary set of pre-digested ideas.

          • Markle says:

            Why is the right to free speech a true right and the right to free travel a frivolity?

            Not to mention that restricting freedom of movement is the first step in restricting speech. Aung San Suu Kyi and the wife of the Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner come to mind.

            If I have to spend three days each way crossing the country by train when my neighbor can do it in 7 hours by plane, I am less free than he. Especially since it’s a bit more expensive to travel by train.

          • Markle says:

            @50 Bob Cooley

            …but calling an inconvenience a loss of freedom is a gross overstatement and diminishes the loss of true rights.

            SRSLY? Forgive me for assuming that English is your first language, but “inconvenience” and “loss of freedom” are frucking synonyms.*

            What’s more, up at the top of the page we have an example of somebody at the top of the trust pyramid being denied his livelihood by somebody rather further down. The pilots with the yoke and throttles in hand, and with a crash axe for defense, locked behind an armored door are already most capable of causing a catastrophe. All those TSA agents, along with mechanics, cleaning staff, gate agents, baggage handlers, etc. are a much better vector for getting contraband beyond the security checkpoint.

            *I’m not sure why the bolding is happenning. I didn’t b-tag or strong-tag anything.

  62. jgs says:

    Isn’t getting on a plane cause enough?

    No.

    security searches are demanded by those who fly.

    Demanded by SOME OF those who fly. (Well, at least one, you. I’ll assume you fly.)

    Would you feel safe if there was no security whatsoever?

    Assuming armored doors on the cockpit, yes.

    You may say you feel safe, but in the back of your mind there will always be that nagging doubt:

    Sorry, you do not get to pose a rhetorical question, anticipate my answer, and then say I am wrong about my own state of mind.

    a ritualistic pass though the security gate, that truly exists in the interests of safety of all those flying.

    Oh I agree about the “ritualistic” comment. Which gives the lie to the notion that it has any bearing on safety.

  63. Rockslide says:

    Here in SLC you can choose to not go through the scanner and you instead simply go through a metal detector. I always opt for the metal detector. I think its completely invasive or wrong to tell a person that they either have to go through the scanner or get patted down. We should not let this become ritual or acceptable. I should be able to opt out of either or both of those intrusions. The metal detector is fine by me. I don’t want my wife or children subjected to either of those conditions either and especially just to board a plane.

  64. DominEditrix says:

    Recently, my brother and I escorted our 80-year-old, wheelchair-bound, oxygen-dependent, pace-maker-sporting stepfather to Chicago from Salt Lake City. The TSA agent kept trying to disconnect his oxygen-concentrator to “examine” it. My brother repeated several times that it was an authorised medical device, to no avail. I finally said ‘If you disconnect it, he will die.’ This penetrated and she conceded that she could examine it where it was. Fortunately, we had a medical certificate showing the existence of the pace-maker. Then we had to point out several times that the Aged Relative could not, in fact, walk through the metal detector, nor could he stand to be wanded. [What part of "wheelchair-bound" was incomprehensible?]

    And then it was my turn. I have titanium rods in my legs. I pointed this out to the TSA agent; when I fly, I never go through the metal detector – they either scan me or wand/pat me. But nooooo – I had to go through the metal detector anyway. Which, of course, promptly beeped wildly. ‘We’ll have to pat you down’, says she…

    And not only are crochet hooks verboten now; evidently, if one has already crocheted an 8-inch square and appliqued a beard and glasses onto it, that must also be confiscated, lest it be used as a mask.

    I forbore mentioning that I knew how to kill someone with a pen or that I could easily make a garrote out of dental floss and a pencil, had I wanted to off any of my fellow passengers.

  65. redesigned says:

    just thought of a funny side tangent….so if you know karate and are registered as a lethal weapon can you never fly again? ;-P

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