The TSA is an irredeemable shitshow, part ten bazillion

This time it's TSA at DFW, who detained a weeping 12-year-old girl with a genetic bone disorder in a wheelchair, separated from her family, on public display, for an hour. Her hands had tested positive for explosive residue, but it was a false alarm. No apologies from the TSA. Oh, and if she was the world's sneakiest suicide bomber, congrats, TSA, you kept her right there among all the other travelers for an hour, while you believed that she was about to blow herself to kingdom come. The Shitshow Agency, indeed.


  1. I love the US prez.  But time to get on this issue – every time something like this happens, I’d love to see him personally apologise to the victim in writing (with say a model presidential helicopter, or a plush White House cat), and publicly reprimand the dicks carrying on this charade.  And fire them.

    1. Why would Obama feel any need to “get on this issue”? He supports all of this. Let’s not forget that the pornoscanners and the invasive genital patdowns that the TSA inflicts on travelers were introduced under Obama’s watch, by his own secretary of homeland security. Obama isn’t responsible for the creation of the TSA (that disgrace belongs to G.W. Bush) but he sure seems to support it.

  2. From the article:
    The TSA responded to questions about the encounter with a statement that said in part, TSA’s mission is to safely, efficiently and respectfully screen nearly two million passengers each day at airports nationwide. We are sensitive to the concerns of passengers who were not satisfied with their screening experience and we invite those individuals to provide feedback to TSA through a variety of channels.”

    Mission failed. What is the feedback channel that will close down this organization? Security theater comes at too high a price for us to keep paying it.

    1. There is no feedback channel for closing down this organization. The iron rule of American lawmaking is that once created, no agency can ever be abolished; and that government power can only be expanded, never reduced. Once these things come to be, someone somewhere with political influence will quickly develop a vested interest in keeping them in existence, and will fight tooth and nail to prevent any attempts to rein them in or abolish them. No, the TSA is permanent, and will never go away. Realistically, the only thing we can expect is to see its role continue to expand in the coming years.

  3. “…you kept her right there among all the other travelers for an hour, while you believed that she was about to blow herself to kingdom come.” This is the kicker that reveals the shallowness of this security theater. That and the fact that our suspected “explosive” toothpaste and baby formula is thrown into a bin. When they *really* suspect that they have a bomb on their hands they’ll call in explosive experts and evacuate the entire airport.

    1. Of course they don’t suspect that the toothpaste or baby formula they make you throw out are explosives. If they did, they wouldn’t let you go on to board the aircraft after confiscating them. They’d have you arrested. There is no rationality at all in the practice of confiscating anything and then letting the passenger board. If you suspect someone is planning an act of terrorism, there is no justification for letting them board the plane. If you don’t suspect they’re planning anything illegal, then there’s no justification for confiscating their shampoo or toothpaste.

      1.  To be fair, the theory is that with this sort of policy terrorists won’t even TRY to hide explosives in their toiletries.  The TSA has been trying to find a sweet spot with searches and policies that are thorough enough to prevent terrorist attacks on airliners but efficient and quick enough to permit air-travel to continue to be an efficient means of travel.  The problem is that this doesn’t exist.  How long did it take for the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber to come up with ways to bypass security?  Any security screening tight enough to prevent all terrorist attacks would make air-travel so inefficient and expensive that people (and potential terrorists) would switch to trains.

  4. Glycerine, in every lotion and toiletry in some form, tests positive as bomb residue.  The failure is in a clear policy and training for agents to determine what next at that point.  A pat down, transfer to a TSA provided wheel chair, and moving the child aside to a private secure area with a parent and same gender agent while the wheel chair is examined seems like a fine policy.  

    Aside from the stupidity of the whole thing, I think a problem with the TSA we have is that there is no one on-site with any knowledge or expertise who is empowered to handle an unusual situation.  There should be highly trained managers with total discretion to handle numerous situations.  Leaving the kid in public like that was the move of people who didn’t know what to do, but knew if they chose wrong they would be punished.  We don’t have to have TSA, but if we are going to have it, then we need to pony up the cash to train people and empower them.  We have to recognize that there is expertise, not think we can just hire minimally paid people with no skills and plug them into a giant machine like a bunch of widgets.

  5. Sorry, but what are they supposed to do if someone tests positive for explosives?   “Oh, you’re in a wheelchair.  Go on through!   Because terrorist are dummies and would NEVER have thought of using a young female.”   Every time I read one of these “they detained a kid/elderly woman/etc” posts, I wonder who you think they should be detaining.  Only people who “look like terrorists?”  That would be a much bigger human rights infringement than checking everyone, indiscriminate of race, color, age, or handicap.  

    Rant over.  They should have moved her to a secure area with her family, and continued the process.  

    1. The answer is that TSA should not be performing these tests on anyone, and they should not be detaining anyone based on these tests.  

      First of all, the high rate of false positives makes the test absolutely useless.  The list of common everyday items that cause this test to alarm is a mile long.  The test is guaranteed to alarm repeatedly on people that have been no where near bombs.  

      The TSA screeners know and expect the alarm to be positive.  They know that there are basically zero terrorists coming through their checkpoint with explosives on their hands.  They know that TSA has never caught a terrorist in over 10 years of existence and that it is highly unlikely they will catch one today.

      So when that one chance in a billion occurs and a terrorist (one who was too stupid to wash his hands, no less) comes through that bored screener’s checkpoint, the screener will simply send the terrorist on his way.  After all, the alarm is always a false alarm.  After thousands of examples of this test crying wolf, the screener won’t believe or recognize it when the wolf finally comes.

      The second reason that TSA should not be using this test is that there is no procedure in place for resolving alarms.  There is no procedure for what to do next.  There is no way to figure out what caused the alarm and determine whether the alarm is true or false.  The only thing that happens is that the passenger is harrassed for an hour or so and then sent on his or her merry way.  TSA has no idea whatsoever whether the person is innocent or about to blow a plane out of the sky.  

      So what is the use of the test?  How will this test prevent an act of terrorism?  The answer is, it won’t.

      The $8 billion per year spent on TSA and their useless procedures that will NEVER catch an actual terrorist would be better spent on real police work and intelligence that has actually been proven to prevent terrorism. Spending our precious tax dollars on terrorizing millions of innocent American citizens daily simply because they want to travel on an airplane is not an acceptable or intelligent use of our limited resources.

  6. Terrorists hate planes, Corey. Not people. It’s regrettable that sometimes people have to die to destroy a plane, but that’s the facts. Those people in the airport were in no danger because planes are the target.

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