Thursday, February 14, 2008

The TSA is the government's largest and most visible boondoogle


I have been saying this for the entire history of this blob (all three months of it) that the so-called Transportation Security Administration is the Federal government's largest "feel good" boondoggle and needs to be eliminated.

You all know intuitively, if you travel at all. Taking off your shoes and belts does not do more than make you something like .00000001% safer, while the advent of super-hard plastics make it possible for all sorts of weapons to glide right by our dedicated screeners and their multi-million-dollar equipment.

Here's more confirmation from Dan Muth at Libertarian International, just trying to return with his family (husband, wife, three children--one of whom was 16 months old) and fight his way onto the plane:

One-by-one we dutifully file through the metal detector, miraculously not setting off any bells or sirens. Whew! At least we can now put our clothes back on, head for the gate and grab something to eat before the flight, right? Not.

Apparently there was something in our “behavior” and/or our “documents” which triggered the crackerjack TSA security guards’ suspicions. Yes, a middle-class white family with three young children, including a 16-month-old baby, returning from vacation set off alarm bells in some bureaucrat’s mind. So we were instructed to move to the side for “enhanced” screening while all of our carry-on bags, including the baby’s stroller, were hand-inspected.

Out of morbid curiosity, I asked if this was simply a “random check” that we’d been so lucky to be honored with. The terse reply from the agent on the front-lines of the war against terrorists was a simple, “No.” So our selection couldn’t even be explained away by the stupidity of random selection; these people intentionally singled us out as a potential security threat.

Barney Fife then proceeded to get a female agent to pat down my wife and two daughters before feeling me up-and-down himself. At which point my wife was instructed to hold the baby out with outstretched arms like Rafiki did with Simba on the rock ledge in “The Lion King” for a pat-down. Absolutely ridiculous.

In the meantime, another crackerjack TSA agent was busy rifling through our carry-on bags, and lo and behold, he caught my wife trying to smuggle onboard a tube of skin cream which exceeded the federally-mandated 3-ounce limit. Goober informed us he was confiscating the potentially lethal tube of Lubriderm, much to the relief of the other passengers standing in line who clearly were worried it might be used to send us all to a watery grave in Davy Jones’ Locker somewhere over the Pacific.

With one of our bags now 5 ounces lighter, we finally were allowed to leave Checkpoint Charlie and proceed to the gate. Now for the kicker.

When we finally get home and unpack, I discover that the girls had inadvertently packed a pair of metal scissors they found at the condo where we stayed in their carry-on knapsack. Neither the TSA’s expensive, super-sensitive X-ray machine nor hand-inspection of the bag detected this pair a metal scissors - but they did find the Lubriderm! Don’t you feel safer now?


OK, so maybe it was just one of those things, that happen every so often, right?

The cost of keeping us all safe, right?

Except:

I’ll leave you and this topic (for now) with the following CNN story, which came out on the exact same day of our latest thrilling experience with the TSA: “A passenger who went through an airport security checkpoint -- before remembering that he had a loaded gun -- is facing charges after going back to report his error, authorities said.”

So a LOADED GUN and a pair of metal scissors can make it past professional airport screeners, but not a tube of skin cream? And once the guy realizes his mistake, HE gets charged with a crime for reporting it? Unbelievable.


The sheer fact of the matter is that a concerted effort by trained individuals can get aboard our airplanes with weapons the equivalent of those used on September 11. All that the TSA does is make traveling a nightmare and provide a false sense of security that keeps us from examining the ideas that will really keep us safer in the air:

(1) Alert passengers who are ready to react and do whatever is necessary to prevent or thwart a hijacking

(2) Expansion of the Federal sky-marshal program

(3) encouragement to law-enforcement officials traveling to carry their firearms onboard airplanes

(4) Training and arming our cockpit crews

Any or all of which keep us safer than me standing in my socks being wanded down.

2 comments:

Waldo said...

We recently got our bag torn up beyond repair by TSA. Our offense? Packing a lethal-looking martini shaker.

Tyler Nixon said...

It appears the "blob" has a blog now :

http://www.tsa.gov/blog/

'Evolution of Security'

"Terrorists Evolve. Threats Evolve. Security Must Stay Ahead. You Play A Part."

Fascism is certainly an "evolutionary" process, no?