Our favorite federal administration, the TSA, has just launched a blog, called Evolution of Security. It kicks off with a cheerful message from Kip Hawley.
I applaud his reason for launching the blog:
One of my major goals of 2008 is to get TSA and passengers back on the same side, working together. We need your help to get the checkpoint to be a better environment for us to do our security job and for you to get through quickly and onto your flight. Seems like the way to get that going is for us to open up and hear your feedback...
The 270 comments following Hawley's introductory post contain a mix of congratulatory messages (most of these are from proud TSA employees), accounts of bad experiences with the TSA, general and specific questions, and suggestions for improvement.
Here's a typical comment from a citizen:
DHS and TSA are fundamentally broken. Disband both immediately and return our civil liberties. Thank goodness Richard Reid did not conceal something in his underpants or these people would be strip-searching every poor grandma from here to Branson. Would someone please explain to these people that putting shoes through an x-ray does not mean they don't contain an explosive? And honestly-- Refusing a valid ID because it is "expired"? Confiscating deodorant and sun block? Does anyone believe that this kabuki security theater really makes us safer? If you guys are serious about your responsibility to protect the country I suggest you start by (1) not cutting off "TSA approved" locks anymore (2) learning and sticking to your own rules and regs especially those pertaining to passengers with medical problems (3) not trying to intimidate anyone who asks for a complaint form and (4) immediately crack down on the threatening screeners who shout "do you want to fly today?" anytime their crazy made-up-on-the-spot orders are questioned by passengers--who in my opinion often know the rules better than the screeners themselves. Oh and by the way your first amendment rights to free speech don't stop when you enter an airport screening area, even at MKE.
Traveling through Chicago I set off the metal detactor. I'm an almost 60 year female. I stopped dead in my tracts, afraid of what I had done. The TSA lady (??) barked at me worse way than how I talk to my large dog. All she kept yelling at me was, "BACK!" I'm not that used to traveling and didn't know what she meant. Why cannot you not talk to us as if we are 'people'? You say that you yourselves are people...I doubt that!
And here's a typical comment from a TSA employee:
As a LTSO I have very proud to work for TSA. I understand that some of the passengers do not like taking off their shoes or surrendering their toothpaste, however, there are many passengers that thank us for what we do. We must all remember that 9/11 happened and we are just trying to make the air safe for everyone. Flying is not a right granted under the Bill of Rights and due to the state of the world today, we must all make smart decisions. I am proud of what we do and what we represent. Thank you Mr. Hawley!!
The comments make for entertaining reading, but I'm skeptical that any positive changes to TSA policies will be made as a result.