FBI anti-terrorism expert: TSA is useless

Steve Moore, who identifies himself as a former FBI Special Agent and head of the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force Al Qaeda squad, says that the TSA is useless. He says that they don't catch terrorists. He says they won't catch terrorists. He says that they can't catch terrorists. Oh, he also claims 35 years' piloting experience and a father was United's head of security and anti-hijacking SWAT training and experience.

Frankly, the professional experience I have had with TSA has frightened me. Once, when approaching screening for a flight on official FBI business, I showed my badge as I had done for decades in order to bypass screening. (You can be envious, but remember, I was one less person in line.) I was asked for my form which showed that I was armed. I was unarmed on this flight because my ultimate destination was a foreign country. I was told, "Then you have to be screened." This logic startled me, so I asked, "If I tell you I have a high-powered weapon, you will let me bypass screening, but if I tell you I'm unarmed, then I have to be screened?" The answer? "Yes. Exactly." Another time, I was bypassing screening (again on official FBI business) with my .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol, and a TSA officer noticed the clip of my pocket knife. "You can't bring a knife on board," he said. I looked at him incredulously and asked, "The semi-automatic pistol is okay, but you don't trust me with a knife?" His response was equal parts predictable and frightening, "But knives are not allowed on the planes."...

The report goes on to state that the virtual strip search screening machines are a failure in that they cannot detect the type of explosives used by the “underwear bomber” or even a pistol used as a TSA’s own real-world test of the machines. Yet TSA has spent approximately $60 billion since 2002 and now has over 65,000 employees, more than the Department of State, more than the Department of Energy, more than the Department of Labor, more than the Department of Education, more than the Department of Housing and Urban Development---combined. TSA has become, according to the report, “an enormous, inflexible and distracted bureaucracy more concerned with……consolidating power.”

Each time the TSA is publically called to account for their actions, they fight back with fear-based press releases which usually begin with “At a time like this….” Or “Al Qaeda is planning—at this moment …..” The tactic, of course, is to throw the spotlight off the fact that their policies are doing nothing to make America safer “at a time like this.” Sometimes doing the wrong thing is just as bad as doing nothing.

TSA: Fail (via MeFi)


  1. The role of the TSA isn’t to make us safer, it’s to give people a false sense of security to show that SOMETHING is being done to safeguard against a terrorist plot, in order for the airlines not to go bankrupt. That is why the screening procedure is tedious enough to be a minor inconvenience, but not SO tedious as to be impractical. That’s why they allow you to bring your laptop on the flight EVEN THOUGH YOU CAN TURN MOST LAPTOP BATTERIES INTO A SMALL EXPLOSIVE.

    There is also a lot of money to be made by the creation of a new avenue to get government contracts. Somebody has to build, install, and maintain all of those body scanners.

    Let’s not forget the holy grail, when they begin asking us to decrypt our hard drives in order to see exactly what we’ve been up to (are you a political activist? a copyright violator? etc.. etc..).

    1. “…but not SO tedious as to be impractical.”

      Then they completely and utterly failed at even that effort.

      1. In my opinon you’ve hit the nail on the head. TSA is meant to engender hysteria and paranoia so as to make the people more easily controlled.

    2. this is a  few years old now:  https://xkcd.com/651/
      Now, Twats Standing Aimlessly has had HOW LONG to pick up on it?  Do you think anyone there really cares at all about actual safety?   Your job is to shut up,  pay up move along and be afraid.  Remember YOU exist for THEM.  Do not forget your place.

    3. The problem with the TSA is that it’s bad, and yet (almost) everybody wins :
      * nitwits get a false sense of security
      * government gets checkpoints they can (ab)use for all kinds of searches
      * low wage, low skill jobs are created in a time of economic crisis
      * investment in security scanner manufacturers (and accompanying kickbacks for government officials that secure contracts.)
      The only things lost are intangibles like “rights” and nobody cares but a small rationalist minority. So the TSA will be around forever or until the next big attack proves their worthlessness, whichever comes first.

      1.  If you think a big attack that proves the TSA’s worthlessness will make them go away… well…

        They will use it to justify expanding their powers and ensuring that they never go away, trust me on this.

    4.  It also desensitize people to the police state ratchet tightening. Consider when a generation or two have grown up with it as part of daily life…

        1. Well there is the “us vs them” line. The police state is not so much against the Palestinians, as they would be the proverbial terrorists in this case, but the Israeli that gets harassed and such because they speak up against the party line.

  2. I recently rejected being scanned by the fancy cancer machine and had to go through the extended pat down. The TSA agents laughed at me, mocked me…joking to each other as if I wasn’t there. They then proceeded to not only leave my wallet, bags, and ID unsupervised, but also intentionally took their sweet time to process me because they obviously had some contempt for my decision as if I were an idiot.

    While I’ve met some polite TSA agents, I have found many to be rude, unprofessional, and power mad…who if they weren’t with the TSA couldn’t get a job as a fry cook.

    1. I take the pat-down every time, and they slow-walk the process every time.  When they ask why I take the pat-down, I tell them I’m “not getting in the Cancer-Box”.  In turn, they recite a little spiel about “it’s less radiation than a cell phone”  to which I calmly reply  “yeah, but at least I don’t need to stand with my nuts next to the darn thing all day.”

      Lollygag and laugh all you want, pal.   Once we’re done with the groping,  I’m worried about where to buy a sandwich, and you’re wondering if your shitty job is giving you cancer of the nuts.

      1. What also entertains me is that there is no consistency between airports and TSA agents. I’ve had some completely miss my packed liquids. I’ve had them have a complete fucking meltdown because I used the “wrong sized” ziplock bag. I’ve had them require my laptop be out of the bag and completely not give a shit half the time. I’ve had them let me go through with a manicure set one direction and make me toss it on the way back…all because of a scissors that can barely cut my nose hair. 

        I love that we give people shitty jobs with so much authority that they tend to be assholes because they want to share in how demoralizing it all is. You know what would make a great TSA agency. Polite, courteous professionals who move quickly and efficiently and follow the same procedures and rules no matter where you go. 

        1.  And the real crazy part is that it gets exported, because any flight connecting to a US flight seems to require a screening (so that people do not have to go thru a check when changing flights).

          1. I laughed so hard at the thought of this, thank you so much.

            They don’t want to pay for professionals because there is no real threat here, and as a result no need for real threat prevention. This is more about fear mongering at a large scale and working in the police state to be a party of daily lives, and it is working with the current staff.

        2.  I took an overseas flight to Japan a few years ago, everyone going was very efficient, polite and professional. Until we arrived at the Dallas airport on the way back. Screaming TSA agents hustling us along like cattle and did I mention, screaming “keep moving KEEP MOVING” at the top of their lungs? Welcome to Amurica!

      2.  “it’s less radiation than a cell phone”

        “Oh, you guys had this one calibrated recently or did you just trust them when it came from the factory?  Because we all know the manufacturers of these fine machines care deeply about the safety of the people using them five days a week, amirite?”

        That’ll wake ’em up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night.

    2. I rejected the scanner 2 weeks ago, and the guy was really nice. He was surprisingly efficient, and when I explained that I don’t like people seeing my junk, he showed me how the new machines use a “chalk outline” diagram to show anomalies rather than a full view. It looks pretty useless to me… I got the explosives sniffer treatment and we both agreed that that was the best … except he said it has too many false positives.

      It probably helped that the line was super-short, and that I was nice about it without calling it a cancer machine.

      Of course it’s all security theater … just imagine how many lives have been lost through wasted time in the last 10 years (5 extra minutes per traveller * number of travellers / lifetime in minutes).

      1. Last time I opted out the scanner, the guy was nice too. So, there are good folks out there, and props to them.  I like going to the “sniffers” because I know exactly how they work, and could teardown and rebuild it if they had trouble with it. 

    3. While I’ve met some polite TSA agents, I have found many to be rude

      I usually see the rudeness coming more from the people in line, but then again, I somehow magically breeze through hassle free every time.  On the other hand, I’m kind of old fashioned:  “please”, “thank you”, know how to treat a bartender well etc…

      If all the anecdotal bitching was true, then I should see about every other person in line being hassled.

      1. Dude… the TSA demanded that a 95 year-old wheelchair-bound leukemia sufferer take off her adult diaper so they could frisk her effectively.

        Why are you defending these morons? Your anecdotal experience doesn’t match with that of thousands of others.

        I agree that politeness gets you a long way in life, but this organisation is wasting US taxpayers’ money by the truckload and there is far too many documented examples of fail to even begin justifying their existence.

        Like parking officers, TSA staff are bottom-feeding scum worthy of constant ridicule and not worthy of any level of decorum.

        1. Like parking officers, TSA staff are bottom-feeding scum worthy of constant ridicule and not worthy of any level of decorum.

          Maybe it’s you “teapot”. Your hatred of “staff” obviously goes way beyond incidents of bad policy (that are dictated from above) or the poor decisions of meagerly paid workers. The fact that you call all workers “scum” show’s that you’ve got serious personal problems. Meanwhile, you all let the people creating and demanding these policies completely off the hook. It’s impossible to treat you seriously. In fact it’s despicable.

    4.  not to defend TSA, but I opted for the pat down two weeks ago and the guy was polite, efficient, and professional (didn’t leave my gear unattended, told me exactly what he was doing, did not touch me inappropriately).

      @ SFO for whatever that’s worth

  3. OK, I’ll have to tell my TSA story. It’s fun. Last summer, I went to the Detroit Maker Faire with my family. I went straight from the Faire to the airport wearing my LED video coat, not having time to pack it. Lots of wires & flex boards stuck on a lab coat. A Detroit cop in the airport told me that he’d had “about 50 phone calls” regarding my attire, so they SSSS’d my whole family and we got the super deluxe search treatment.

    Then they examined and returned to me my eight high-power lithium-ion R/C car battery packs, whose plugs can be mated into each other + to -, and have NO protection circuits or fuses. In other words, I could have started four lithium fires in the cabin of that plane if I’d had the desire to, not that I have any such desire. But still, letting these batteries on board seems a bit more dangerous than letting a pocket knife on board.

    I asked Bruce Schneier about this, and he said that since no terrorists have yet tried to start a lithium fire on a plane, that the TSA has zero reason to restrict them.

    Is that proactive or what?

      1.  I like to think that there’s at least one terrorist in the world smart enough to figure this out by himself. It’s not rocket science.

      2. Whom ever these Terrorists are they may well already know stuff like that. 4 ounces of Nitric Acid and  4 ounces of Sulfuric Acid in little plastic bottles with a false top so you could have shampoo and conditioner and one heck of a reaction. No one watching will say anything about your hair.

    1. Not sure how to feel about this, yes the TSA is useless, but you still have a personal responsibility to obey the law, and the law is that you cannot fly non UN approved batteries (which you did)…  Ostensibly you “endangered” your fellow passengers, not the TSA. Fines for flying non-approved batteries vary, see this FAA PDF for why you don’t do this:

      1. I checked the TSA rules on their website, and they didn’t say anything about UN approval requirements for li-ion packs. And the TSA agents didn’t look for any UN approvals either, and they were doing a SSSS search! 

        So I can’t see how the TSA is making us safer by allowing such contraband on airplanes after inspecting it. I was rather shocked that they didn’t confiscate those batteries.

          1.  I just read through this, and it’s no more restrictive than the TSA rules on their website. I think the TSA just paraphrased the IATA stuff. So the batteries that I carried seem to pass muster, AFAICT.
            Perhaps the rules should be improved to handle the HobbyKing products. (BTW, HobbyKing doesn’t follow IATA rules when shipping their products!)

  4. A couple of months ago I watched as a screener at Toronto Pearson airport not allow an Air Canada pilot to carry a hockey stick on board the plane he was piloting. The pilot was in uniform and carrying all his ID. The pilot had made it through screening, and the “security” guy took the stick off the x-ray belt and took it from the reach of the pilot.

    The discussion went something like this…

    Screener: You can’t take the hockey stick on board, it’s a weapon.
    Pilot: I’m the pilot.
    Screener: It doesn’t matter. You could hurt someone with the stick.
    Pilot: I’m not going to hurt anyone. I’m the pilot. I’m flying the plane.
    Screener: It’s a rule.
    Pilot: The stick will be on the flight deck.
    Screener: You can’t have a weapon on the flight deck.
    Pilot: I’m the fucking pilot, you do realise that, right?
    Screener: It’s still a weapon, and you can’t carry it on board. Someone might get hurt.
    Pilot: (voice and eyebrows raising) I’m the pilot, I could crash the fucking plane, but the stick is dangerous?!
    Screener: You can ship it later sir.
    Pilot: You’re an asshole.

    To be fair, the pilot probably should have just shipped the damn stick, or maybe dumped it into baggage like the rest of us do, but the idea that the stick was dangerous to anyone on the plane while it was on the flight deck was absolutely whacked.

    But still, knowing that that asshole was “keeping me safe” didn’t make me feel any safer. At all.

    1. Not to mention … I could use anything as a weapon.  Like a well-placed attaché to the head. Or maybe one of those seat belt extenders. They have metal ends. That could really hurt if you hit someone hard enough!

    2. Good decision for a bad reason. I imagine you don’t want large loose objects in the cabin in case the plane has to do a sudden maneuver and they start flying all over the place.

      1. Frankly, I doubt that a ground.bound screener is more qualified to make judgements on flight security than a pilot.  

        1. A little outside checking of whether or not security guidelines are being followed never hurt anyone. People aren’t exactly known to be very rational when they have a stake in the matter. That’s why auditors exist. And even consummate professionals make bad calls.

        1. Because pilots aren’t irrational opportunists like the rest of us ? Smart people do stupid things when it suits them.

  5. The TSA is the number one reason why I will never go to the US for my annual holiday (aka vacation). I will never go back until this farce is over.

    What a total pathetic disgrace the US air transport industry has turned into.

    And you Americans just bend over and let it happen.

    “Land of the free…”
    That has to be the best comedic one-liner of this century.

    1. I was faced with this choice recently. But not being Mr. Richy Pants, my options are Hawaii or Mexico. TSA or Cartels. Hawaii was cheaper. When I get my pat-down I intend to ask for a hug. 

      1. Only because your Govt insisted on all airports carrying flights into the USA providing similar levels of security or they refuse permission for the flights to depart. It’s viral and the USA is the plague…

        1.  this is exactly what I hear when I’m traveling internationally.   “We are sorry, but we have to do this because of your government.”   Except for Israel.   Like the Honey Badger,  they don’t give a shit, and handle security their way.  which works.

    2. Obviously you’ve never flown into or out of Newark, NJ (16 million passengers/year, 14th busiest in USA). You will not be inconvenienced in the least. Carry a hatchet with you. No worries. TSA folk won’t notice.

    3. They also fingerprint us dirty foreigners. Data which the US then conveniently shares back to my government, circumventing controls preventing said government from doing it themselves. No thanks.

  6. > Yet TSA has spent approximately $60 billion 

    Stop right there. In a land where money is god, money means everything. TSA, like any other corrupted institution has shifted priorities from its original purpose to the purpose of redistributing cash from taxpayers to private entities. So I think it is quite successful.

    1. In the US tradition of taking government funds to fund privatized companies who hire the lowest common denominator so as to save/make more money…it’s remarkably successful. Profit motive…always a good solution for anything.

      1. that’s normally true. but in this case, you’ve actually got it backwards. cast your mind back to the elder days before TSA – that’s when private “security” agents manned whatever passed for airport security controls. the advent of TSA ended the “hire the lowest common denominator so as to save/make money” and became “hire the same lowest common denominators, give them reasonable salaries, real uniforms and some benefits, and meanwhile (wave of hands) move millions or billions of dollars into the hands of tech companies making the gear that runs this security theater”.

  7. I think by this point everybody has figured out that it’s all just security theater, the problem is that they’ve painted themselves into a corner.  They can’t just stop because then the show will be over and the money will stop flowing, but they don’t really know what they could do that would really keep people safe.  Most of the stuff that really works, like locking the door to the flight deck, has already been done but doesn’t keep the paychecks flowing. 

    Also, just try to be the congressman who brings up the bill that “Cuts funding for vital homeland security assets”, see how long you last when the SuperPAC attack ads come out during the following election cycle.  Also watch all of your colleges run away from the bill as fast as possible. 

  8. And to add, the response from the TSA employee of “But knives are not allowed on planes” just shows that they are like programmed robots, ignoring all rationality and common sense and just repeating their training manuals verbatim.

    1.  It’s company policy.  And if the guy shows some common sense and lets the FBI agent through with the knife and then he gets screened again later by some other TSA agent, that first agent will get a black mark on his record for letting a weapon through his checkpoint. 

      Attempting to use common sense is all downside with no upside other than grateful passengers for a TSA agent.  Their job isn’t to make sure you have a pleasant experience at the airport, that’s not what they are paid to do. 

      It’s an Orwellian system, but you can’t change it without massive structural changes from the top.

    2. At any point, any person going through a TSA checkpoint could be an authority figure testing them to find out if they’re following the rules.  Any person could also be a potential terrorist, and nobody wants to be the guy who gets blamed for not “following the rules” if it leads to a terrorist attack.

      Imagine that you deal with the public every day.  Hundreds of people every day.  You’re just qualified enough to be a TSA security guard and you want to keep your job because going back to beg for your mall cop job is not just degrading, the economy sucks so bad that you’re not likely to have any shot at it anyway. 

      How much are you going to risk using common sense, and how much are you going to be inclined to follow the rules?  In that situation – especially folks who are desperately afraid of getting fired – you’re not going to wiggle much.  You’re going to follow the rules as written.  And hey – if an actual terrorist event happens but it’s something that wasn’t in the rules it may be a tragedy, but it isn’t going to get you fired.  Because they’re paying you to enforce and follow a narrow set of rules, and as long as you don’t screw that up you’ll probably be able to keep your job that is slightly less shitty than the other jobs that are both available and that you might have a shot of getting.

      1. TL;DR

        It’s systemic.  The system is fucked, the rewards and punishments are all backwards, and the folks at the top have no incentive to change anything about it.  Welcome to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

  9. “Sometimes doing the wrong thing is just as bad as doing nothing. ”
    I submit that it is worse, most of the time. Someone who is doing nothing can start doing the right thing more easily than someone who is doing the wrong thing and must be convince they are doing the wrong thing, then stop doing it then start doing the right thing, all the while wondering if they aren’t now doing the wrong thing yet again. I presume that many in the TSA truly believe they are helping, which is far worse than the people in the TSA who are merely there because the economy is crap and they can’t get a better job.

  10. “I’m sorry sir, you can’t take logic with you on the plane. You could hurt someone with logic; you will have to put it in your checked luggage or ship it later.”

  11. Airport security was worthless BEFORE 9/11.

    One time they let me take my pocket knife on board, as it was <4" long. They wouldn't let me take my cigar punch on because it LOOKED like a bullet (but clearly was not).

    Fucking worthless nitwits. The only problem is when they cut back on the TSA, they will have a glut of mall ninjas looking for jobs.

    1.  Build a Foxconn-style facility for them out in Nebraska somewhere and have them build iPhones.

  12. “The semi-automatic pistol is okay, but you don’t trust me with a knife?” His response was equal parts predictable and frightening, “But knives are not allowed on the planes.”

    He then added: “I am a robot.”

      1. Indeed: “Ode to a small green lump of putty I found in your shaving kit”, followed by a dramatic reading of “I LIKE ORDERS!!!”

  13. I wonder if after a terrorist plot involving a bomb that has been swallowed (by either end of the human body) is discovered, if they will make everybody take a mandatory #2 before bording the plane?

  14. A buddy of mine was coming back from Iraq.
    He was in full uniform with his entier squad and they all were carrying on their M-4s and such.

    The idiot TSA officer made him toss his damn nail clippers.

    1.  Next time, don’t show “The Dark Knight” to those cretins from DHS, they get stupid ideas.

  15. I once had a tiny Swiss Army knife (nailfile, 1″ blade, tiny scissors) taken away on a return flight. This was in the early days of the TSA, before I understood the game, so I made the mistake of asking why. I was told that I could use it to kill people and/or hijack the plane. I made the further mistake of saying “yeah, I suppose if I pulled that knife on the pilot, he might laugh himself to death.”
    The TSA guy called over his superior to discuss whether or not I had just made a terrorist threat. I was lucky, I guess. I only had to grovel and apologize to them, and they let me on my flight.

  16. All stupidity of the TSA aside, I’m afraid the FBI expert’s grasp of logic is no better.

    I was asked for my form which showed that I was armed. I was unarmed on this flight because my ultimate destination was a foreign country. I was told, “Then you have to be screened.” This logic startled me, so I asked, “If I tell you I have a high-powered weapon, you will let me bypass screening, but if I tell you I’m unarmed, then I have to be screened?” The answer? “Yes. Exactly.”

    Well, yes, that’s exactly logical. If you have the documents that say you can carry a weapon, you don’t need to be searched for a weapon. If you don’t have the documents, however, then if you do have a weapon you’re breaking the law.

    The FBI guy seems to equate not having the documents with proof that he doesn’t have a weapon, which is entirely false.

    Now you can argue about whether the TSA should be frisking pilots who could conceivably kill the whole plane (although “killing the whole plane” isn’t the only reason a pilot might want to smuggle a gun aboard), but once you decide that pilots need documents to carry guns aboard, it’s logical that not having the documents means they need to check you for guns.

    I mean, even pre-9/11 pilots had to go through the metal detectors.

    1. i think you missed some details here. from the article, step one is:

      I showed my badge as I had done for decades in order to bypass screening.

      step two could be:

      my form which showed that I was armed

      he seems to be claiming the badge is already proof enough to let him bypass screening, bnt that because he wasn’t additionally carrying the “i am armed” form, they wouldn’t let him skip it.

      i don’t know if the badge is really enough, but if it is then his account makes perfect sense.

  17. There was some post on here a while back about how a terrorist doesn’t even need to try to get through security.  Just show up at the airport and unload your AK thru the chain link fence.  Hey, I am in no way suggesting this.  All I’m saying is terrorists have ample opportunity to do massive destruction… and they are not.  Think about possibly why not.

    1. Any terrorist could step on a bus in any major city tomorrow and blow it up if they wanted to. Why don’t they? Answer: Because they’ve got it pretty nice here and don’t wanna screw it up. No other reason.

  18.  “The semi-automatic pistol is okay, but you don’t trust me with a knife?” His response was equal parts predictable and frightening, “Ya don’t bring a knife to a gunfight”…

  19. “The semi-automatic pistol is okay, but you don’t trust me with a knife?”
    “…But this one goes to 11.”

  20. Replying to Coop:
    I assume the screener was not aware that the pilot has access to a crash axe kept in the cockpit or on the flight deck.  Speaking only for myself, those crash axes look a helluva lot more dangerous than a hockey stick.  http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2010/12/24/article-1341390-0C933D5A000005DC-132_468x286.jpg  The picture accompanies this news article: 
    See also http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/11/pigs-fly-also-i-agree-with-charles-krauthammer/66837/    and   http://www.secure-skies.org/crewscreening.php

  21. Here’s my story. And this time it wasn’t the TSA at all. Delta Airlines took it upon themselves to set up a SECOND security checkpoint, following TSA’s insanity to the letter, just past the one we’d already been through…just because they could. See http://therightofthepeople.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/delta-airlines-a-link-between-tolerance-of-in-flight-porn-and-private-sponsorship-of-extra-security-feel-ups-delta-tsa-travel/

  22. I also once had a discussion about the Cancer Boxes with a TSA agent. He was polite and didn’t jab the junk, which was good. At first he tried the usual defense of the boxes, saying they test them and certify them and blah blah blah. When I asked if they were allowed to carry radiation badges, he said yes. Then I asked him if he _trusts_ the badges to tell the truth. That’s when his voice got real low and he spilled his guts about how disgusted he is with the TSA and their lies and deceptions. He said that even the maintenance guys spend as little time as possible near the boxes when working on them. He worries about his future procreation abilities and overall health because of the machines. Too bad I didn’t have more time to get into a discussion with him about why he chooses to work in such a dangerous environment, even if unemployment were his only alternative. That would have been interesting.

  23. While I am forced to stand next to the cancer machine, waiting for the groping that always makes me cry, I get to watch TSA employees volunteering to be the next Gulf War Syndrome patients.

  24. I’m so looking forward to going to America in June…. or should that be leaving to come home again?  Hopefully my camera won’t be judged as a lethal weapon.  One of the lenses is quite heavy.  But taking photos of planes at airports is bad enough.  I once commented that I could probably carry a gun round an airport and no-one would bat an eyelid, but everyone gets edgy when a camera appears.  As we all know, someone looking at planes is secretly planning to bring one down somehow or other.

    It does make me wonder if there’s something about the way some people are brought up or live in America that means they have to stick rigidly to “rules” regardless.  Some sort of autism or brain washing that means a procedure has to be followed, come hell, high water or anything else that doesn’t tick the correct boxes.  My ex sister-in-law was once astonished that you didn’t have to stick to the recipe when making some meal or other.  Or you could actually make up your own recipe.  “Can you do that?” being the response to the suggestion that you just put suitable stuff in a pan and cook it.  

    Bill Hicks where are you?  

    1. I’ve got two words for you: fundamentalist protestants.

      Well, to be fair, there’s also all the litigiousness. 

    2.  Not to defend the US citizens who act that way, but it’s not like we’re the only ones or even that it started here – bureaucracies the world over are famous for fostering this sort of attitude, including in the British Commonwealth and of course Japan. When not making samurai films Kurosawa made a career of criticizing Japan’s bureaucracy in films like Ikiru – and this tradition continues to film and TV in Japan today because little has changed.

      It does tend to permeate to low-wage service workers in the US, though, maybe more than elsewhere – in other places I envision this being a problem at one or two levels above the person on the ground, but here even store clerks will be unnecessarily rigid, not to mention TSA and other rent-a-cops. In some establishments that care about customer service, they’re given more flexibility – but a codified flexibility, and even in those places you can often tell that the person is reluctant to be flexible (even if flexibility is the rule) and would much rather stick to a more firm set of rules.

  25. I agree that most of TSA efforts are pointless security theater, but I wonder about the first sentence in this article : “Steve Moore, who identifies himself as a former FBI Special Agent (…)”

    What does that mean? Is he a former FBI agent or not ? Did anyone try to check ?

  26. So it’s great that the article got so many of your panties in a wad.  But other than whining in the Comments section, what are you all doing to change this sad state of affairs?

    I don’t mean that totally rhetorically, either.  I read the article and agree things suck.  But neither the original article, nor Boing Boing’s summary of it, nor the reader comments offer a single suggestion of how to fix what’s broken.  I’ve written to my senator, but nothing changed.  Now what should I do?  Post a snarky comment and then move on to the next post?

  27.  But making us feel unsafe is not the only reason they exist.  Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff (the first two Homeland Secretaries) own BIG chunks of the body scanner business.  The question is, who else is making money by radiating us.  The molestation is just a manner to make you comply with the body scanners so they can install and therefore, sell more to airports everywhere.  Why has Europe banned these insidious machines?  Because they feel they are a danger to their citizens. Our own government treats us as their pawns to make others money or die for them if it is beneficial to some.  Incredible!

  28. This is precisely the problem with the TSA. It hires low-paid, poorly-trained employees who follow a set of ever-changing rules rote. One week, you can’t bring more than 3 oz of shampoo on a flight, the next week, you have to remove your wallet from your back pocket and put it through the x-ray machine. There’s simply no common sense being used.

    1. TSA does not hire low-payed, poorly trained employees, they hire employees and pay them low and do not provide the proper training. I think they hire proper people and TSA lack the responsibility to do what is right by their employees. I’m pretty sure if they were to hire you “Lucas”, you would be a good candidate. I wouldn’t think you lack knowledge on safety concerns, I just think you would not get the proper training to enhance your knowledge. There’s a big difference. Therefor I do not blame the agents, I blame the agency, and if we voice our concern with a solution, then we can get the ball rolling in providing proper screeners at the airports.

  29. I worked as a training manager a couple years back for a ground handling company ( the teams that offload cargo, bags, PAX) for certain airlines.  There is no daily screening process for any of these employees entering the AOA (Airport Operations Area) other than having a valid airport issued ID tag.  Employees that are hired onto a company and then badged by the airport then have access to the airport on a daily basis that does not require them to enter through the terminal, thus avoiding any screening.  At that point, ANYTHING can be loaded on or placed in an aircraft.  As passengers, you are receiving a false sense of the level of security that seems easily by-passable.  Any airports with this setup should rethink security points and access to the AOA.

  30. I was travelling through Houston from the UK and was lining up with hundreds of people to go through screening for my next flight (which was missed) and as a person who grew up as a military kid and served (I’m a Brit), I started thinking of how bad the situation was with screening. The obvious realisation was that the best and most effective place to let a bomb off was in the line for screening!! 
    The result beyond the death and mayhem at a major international airport hub would have – is the crippling knock on throughout the system and on global travel.
    As someone who grew up looking under the car in the morning before going to school I was dismayed that they allowed that many people together in such a confined space.

    I understand the pressure the TSA staff have, but they need to the freedom to think and act for themselves and use common-sense. 

    I remember when I would read that people were relieved to see troops patrolling airports, but thought that was sadly funny as you can’t shoot a bomb blast.

    No! it’s time to wise up to how these things really work, and not run a system based around a knee-jerk reaction to previous events. 
    Freedom has a price, terrors price inflicts this level of security mayhem…

    But it would be a bold person that stands up and re-does the whole system logically.

  31. Just remember: Shit and Stupidity are about the same, in the sense that they start at the top and flow downhill!  Just look at who the idiot is at the TOP!

  32. I think Mr. FBI should just go ahead and fire all the TSA agents and do the job all by himself at every airport, since apparently he is the only one capable of doing this task. JHC, instead of providing a solution he just cries about the problem too. Go teach a class at the TSA center for higher education, oh but wait, that means he has to do something, nevermind.
    Mr. FBI, thank you your service. Just in case no one has told you before. Does that make you feel better?

  33. The most useless group of stupid people!!!! Common sense is detrimental to their mission. I was returning from Israel with some delicious chocolate that was given me as a gift. I easily passed the strict screening in Israel, but when I arrived in Philly, stupid kicked in. I was told to load it in my luggage after I had already checked it in. TSA escorted me out of the building and told to go to my airline desk as ask them to pull my luggage so I could pack this chocolate in my bag.

    By now I am steaming and being diabetic and it is 6 in the morning, my body was sweating. First I told the TSA people before being escorted out that, that I would eat all the chocolate in front of them if I was not diabetic. They told me the reason I could not take it with me was because it can be smeared. I told them the only place I planned to smear it was on bread when I got home and eat it. 

    What about a diaper? Now that could be a smear job.

    My airline refused to pull my bags so I had to give it to the desk clerk instead of throwing it away.

    I hit the final TSA screening and I am really sweating by now. Not only do they run me through the machine, they almost strip me and touch my body needlessly.

    I filed a complaint with TSA and no one ever responded.

    We were safer before this group of inconsistent inspectors harass us Americans.

    Do away with them and just add more sky marshals.

    At least hire people with common sense. Enough chocolate spread to barely share with my family was taken from me.

    TSA, wake up or Congress, do something about it.

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