"Dominate. Intimidate. Control." - The sorry record of the Transport. Security Admin.

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"Dominate. Intimidate. Control."

The sorry record of the Transportation Security Administration

James Bovard
Article from: http://www.reason.com/0402/fe.jb.dominate.shtml#topnav

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When 9/11 exposed the holes in American airport and airline security, the Bush administration and Congress responded with the usual Washington panacea: a new federal agency. Congress quickly deluged the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) with billions of dollars to hire an army of over 50,000 federal agents to screen airport passengers and baggage.

But before the agency was even a year old, it was clear that it had "become a monster," to quote the chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, John Mica (R-Fla.). Arrogant, abusive, incompetent, and expensive, the TSA is, in the words of the House Appropriations Committee, "seemingly unable to make crisp decisions...unable to work cooperatively with the nations airports; and unable to take advantage of the multitude of security-improving and labor-saving technologies available."

The attacks of September 11, 2001, changed many things, but they did not make the federal government more competent or effective, and they did not make it more willing to respect the dignity or liberty of its citizens. For proof, one need only examine the TSAs sorry record.



Jumpy Screeners

In June 2002 news leaked out that TSA airport screeners missed 24 percent of the weapons and imitation bombs planted in the governments undercover security tests. At some major airports, screeners failed to detect potentially dangerous objects in half the tests. The results were worse than they first appeared, because the testers were ordered not to "artfully conceal" the deadly contraband and instead pack their luggage "consistent with how a typical passenger in air transportation might pack a bag." Although the tests seemed designed to see if screeners could catch terrorists with single-digit IQs, they still failed to find the weapons much of the time.

That does not mean TSA screeners dont find anything. Notable triumphs have included seizing a tiny pair of wire cutters from a Special Forces veteran who had been shot in the jaw in Afghanistan and needed the cutters to snip his jaw open if he started to choke; evacuating terminals in Los Angeles upon discovering that travelers were carrying such dangerous devices as a belt buckle or a tub of jam; and shutting down several concourses in St. Louis after a federal security screener spotted what appeared to be a "cutting tool" in a carry-on bag. After detecting the suspicious object, the St. Louis screener followed proper procedure: He fetched his supervisor to take a look at the frozen image on the video screen at the checkpoint. A few minutes later, the supervisor concluded that the bag was indeed suspicious and needed to be manually searched. But the passenger had long since retrieved it and headed to his or her flight. Hundreds of passengers were evacuated and up to 60 flights were delayed; despite many searches, the suspicious item was never found.

On January 15, 2003, the Tampa airport was evacuated after screeners discovered an abandoned briefcase that appeared to be packed with bombs. The ticketing level of the terminal was cleared, the roads outside were closed,
and the bomb squad arrived. An hour later, it was determined that the briefcase was a TSA dummy designed to test airport security. "We use these bags repeatedly, so the fact that the bag was in that area was not surprising," TSA Security Director Dario Compain told the St. Petersburg Times. "That it was unattended, that there was no one with it who knew its true nature and could stop the escalation of our action before it reached the evacuation stage, is whats troubling."

The TSA detains more than just packages. More than 1,000 people have been arrested at airport checkpoints since the feds took over security in February 2002. A regulation passed that month made it a federal crime to interfere with airport screening personnel. A single word can be sufficient to trigger an arrest.

Betsylew Miale-Gix, a 43-year-old personal injury lawyer and former world boomerang record holder, was stopped at a security checkpoint at Hartfords Bradley International Airport on June 30, 2002, and informed that she could not carry her boomerangs onto the plane. The boomerangs weighed less than three ounces each and were fragile -- the type of item that is routinely crushed if sent as checked luggage. Miale-Gix had flown many times after 9/11 and had never encountered any objections to her boomerangs. They wouldnt be much use as weapons, after all; as one of her fellow boomerang enthusiasts commented, throwing a competitive boomerang at someone is "like throwing a first-class letter."

The state trooper who banned the boomerangs from the flight refused to listen to Miale-Gixs explanation, and she swore at him as she was departing the screening area. She was quickly arrested, handcuffed, charged with breach of the peace, and compelled to pay $500 for bail. TSA spokeswoman Deirdre OSullivan told The New York Times that although boomerangs are not on the official list of prohibited carry-on items, "the screeners have the discretion to decide whether or not that item could be used as a weapon."

Travelers who assert their legal rights can find themselves bounced. Della Maricich was banned from a Portland-to-Seattle flight on May 1, 2002, after she asked an airport screener to keep her purse where she could see it while he searched it. (Many airport screeners have been accused of theft since the new search procedures were introduced.) The screener refused, and Maricich demanded to speak to his supervisor. A National Guardsman arrived on the scene a few minutes later and, Maricich later told The Wall Street Journal, "He told me that because I had disrupted the line by calling for a supervisor, I would not be allowed to fly out of PDX that day. He told me that I was a troublemaker and I was the only one who had ever complained."

On August 2, 2002, a screener at Hartfords Bradley International Airport poked through the wallet of Fred Hubbell, an 80-year-old World War II combat veteran who had already undergone two full searches in that airport that morning. "What do you expect to find in there, a rifle?" the exasperated Hubbell asked. He was then arrested for "causing a public disturbance" and fined $78. Dana Cosgrove, the TSA airport security chief, later justified the arrest on the grounds that "all that the people around him in the waiting room heard was the word rifle."

The TSA flaunts its power to bar people from flights. A group of 20 high school students and Catholic priests and nuns, members of Peace Action Milwaukee, were detained at Milwaukees airport on April 19, 2002, after some of their names turned up on a "No Fly Watch List" issued by the federal government. According to one member of the group, a sheriffs deputy told her, "Youre probably being stopped because you are a peace group and youre protesting against your country." Many of the travelers missed their flights and had to fly the following day. Yet Sgt. Chuck Coughlin of the Milwaukee sheriffs department insisted, "Although it was time-consuming, and although they were flight-delayed, the system actually worked."

The TSAs no-fly lists are often poor sources of information. Many travelers are repeatedly stopped erroneously and taken aside for intensive questioning, regardless of how many times they have previously proved that they are not a threat to national security. As David Sobel, general counsel of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told the Financial Times, "Nobody wants to accept responsibility for the maintenance of the [no-fly] list, and nobody wants to claim the authority to remove a name." Now the TSA, at Congresss behest, is creating the Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS II), which will assign a "threat level" to every person who flies within the United States. The TSA has provided almost no information on how the system will operate, although the government has indicated that it could sweep up a vast amount of personal information on each traveler -- including credit history, financial and transaction records, Internet usage, and legal records (including speeding and parking tickets).

In January 2003 the TSA revealed a new regulation allowing it to suspend pilot licenses based on unproven suspicions that the pilot might pose a security risk. Those who lose their livelihoods as a result of such edicts will not necessarily be permitted to see the evidence against them. The TSA did not seek comments from the public before announcing its new rule, which fails even to define "security risk." Phil Boyer, president of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, protested that the TSA was being "the cop, prosecutor, judge, jury and appeals court....Clearly, this is a violation of basic constitutional rights." But agency spokesman Brian Turmail dismissed the concerns: "The bottom line is: If youre not a terrorist, you dont need to worry about this."

Crazy Cops

The TSA has proven inept in the air as well as on the ground. It was determined to expand the number of air marshals quickly from a few hundred to more than 6,000. When most of the applicants failed the marksmanship test, the agency solved that problem by dropping the marksmanship test for new applicants. (The ability to shoot accurately in a plane cabin is widely considered a crucial part of a marshals job.) Some would-be marshals were hired even after they repeatedly shot flight attendants in mock hijack response exercises.

USA Todays Blake Morrison noted a report that "one marshal was suspended after he left his gun in a lavatory aboard a United Airlines flight from Washington to Las Vegas in December. A passenger discovered the weapon." Another air marshal left his pistol on a Northwest flight from Detroit to Indianapolis; a cleaning crew discovered the weapon. Morrison noted: "At least 250 federal air marshals have left the top-secret program, and documents obtained by USA Today suggest officials are struggling to handle what two managers call a flood of resignations."

The Transportation Department responded to the USA Today expos矇 by sending Secretary Norman Mineta to an air marshal training facility, where he witnessed a training exercise in which marshals shot a would-be hijacker. Afterward Mineta commented, "I not only saw a remarkable demonstration of skill and marksmanship, but a degree of professionalism we are instilling throughout our aviation security system."

Eight days later, on August 31, 2002, Delta Flight 442 was proceeding from Atlanta to Philadelphia with 183 people on board when a disheveled passenger began rummaging in the overhead bin. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the trouble began when the man "made inappropriate comments to a female passenger a few rows behind him." Two plainclothes air marshals jumped up and tackled the guy, shoving him first to the back of the plane and then dragging him to the first class area.

Then the trip got interesting. One of the marshals returned to the front of the coach section, drew his Glock semiautomatic pistol, and started screaming and pointing his gun at passengers. Philadelphia Judge James Lineberger, a passenger on the flight, later told the Associated Press, "I assumed at that moment that there was going to be some sort of gun battle....There were individuals looking to see what they were pointing at, and [the air marshals] were yelling, Get down, get out -- get your head out of the aisle." In a formal complaint to the TSA, Lineberger declared that "there was no apparent reason for holding all the passengers of the plane at gunpoint, and no explanation was given."

Lineberger was sitting diagonally across from the initial target of the marshals, yet did not notice any problem on the flight until the marshals went ballistic. Susan Johnson, a social worker from Mobile, Alabama, was also unaware of any disturbance until the air marshals seized the man. "It never made sense," she told the Inquirer. "This guy was not any physical threat that we could see. Maybe he said some things to them that made them concerned. He just appeared to us unstable, emotionally." According to Becky Johnson, a reporter who wrote a column about the episode for her Waynesville, North Carolina, newspaper, "They never, ever said who they were, that they were air marshals or whoever."

After the flight landed, the marshals nailed another terrorist suspect: a physician and retired U.S. Army major named Robert Rajcoomar. He was handcuffed and taken into custody because, as TSA spokesman David Steigman later explained it, he "had been observing too closely."


Rajcoomar had been sitting in first class quietly reading and drinking a beer until the marshals dumped the allegedly unruly passenger from coach class into the adjacent seat. Rajcoomar told the Inquirer: "One [marshal] sat on
the guy....he was groaning, and the more he groaned, the more they twisted the handcuffs." Rajcoomar asked the stewardess for permission to move to another seat in first class; she told him to take one of the seats the marshals
had vacated.

When the plane landed, Rajcoomar recalled, "One of these marshals came down to me and said, Head down, hands over your head! They pushed my head down, told me to bend down." Rajcoomar said one of the marshals told him, "We didnt like the way you looked" and "We didnt like the way you looked at us." He was locked up in a filthy cell for three hours before being released without charges. His wife was left to roam the Philadelphia airport, not knowing what had happened to her husband.

And the person who initially set off the marshals? He was questioned after the plane landed, but a U.S. attorney decided not to file charges.

The air marshal who brandished his weapon had twice applied to be a cop in Philadelphia but failed the police departments psychological tests. He had also been rejected in an attempt to become a prison guard. When he threatened scores of coach passengers, he had received only two weeks of training.

What escalates this episode beyond a mere bizarre anecdote is the fact that the TSA hailed these marshals as models. Several days after the incident, Thomas Quinn,
the national director of the air marshal program, asserted, "The federal air marshals did a very good job. They did exactly as theyre trained to do." And TSA spokesman Robert Johnson, speaking to the Associated Press, blamed the passengers for being held at gunpoint: "If people would have stayed in their seats and heeded those warnings, that would not have happened. Its our opinion that it was done by the book."

Not Just Birth Pangs

DallasFort Worth International Airport is home to 1,800 TSA screeners. At 1:50 p.m. on January 9, 2003, one of them swabbed the outside of a passengers laptop bag to check for explosives. The screener returned the bag to the pas-senger, who proceeded to his plane. Three minutes later, the screener noticed that the explosive trace detection machine indicated a positive alert for Semtex, a plastic explosive, from the laptop. The screeners then spent three more minutes checking the machine to confirm the accuracy of the positive alert before they informed a TSA supervisor of the problem. The supervisor and screeners then left the checkpoint to walk around and see if they could find the man suspected of having plastic explosives in his laptop. (The explosive detection test is notorious for false positives.)

The group searched four airport departure gates and, after they could not find the man, returned to the checkpoint to retest the machine. More than half an hour after the positive alert for plastic explosives occurred, the TSA notified an airport policeman standing 15 feet from the checkpoint of the problem. Orders were quickly given to empty the terminal. Almost an hour after the laptop owner passed through the checkpoint, his description was circulated through the airport.

Three terminals at the nations third-largest airport were closed for almost two hours. Thousands of people were evacuated from the airport and at least 200 flights delayed. Hundreds of passengers already on planes waiting for takeoff were obliged to deplane. Forty other airports were affected.

Because the DallasFort Worth airport was not blown up that afternoon, the TSA declared victory. Agency spokesman Ed Martelle told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "We caught him, but we lost him. But what he couldnt do was harm anyone. The system worked." The TSA refused to name either the manufacturer of the machine that gave the alert or the screener; as spokesman Brian Doyle explained, "There are privacy issues involved here." After prying into tens of millions of Americans bags, the agency suddenly developed respect for privacy -- for itself and its corporate suppliers.

Although the TSA promised to issue a full report on the incident, it reneged, announcing a few weeks later that national security concerns prevented it from releasing any more details of the debacle. The TSA also declared that "details about future breaches also would be kept secret because of national security," The Dallas Morning News reported. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram added: "Too much information was made public about the breach, local TSA officials have been told. Further disclosures by airport officials or anyone else privy to the final report could result in fines and/or jail time."

While some people may retain hope that the preceding fiascoes are merely birth pangs, contrary evidence continues to cascade in:

On February 6, 2003, according to Airport Security Report, San Francisco International Airport was disrupted after a Taiwanese woman with two carry-on bags "sprinted through an unmanned security checkpoint at 10:46 a.m. It wasnt until 1 p.m. that TSA officials evacuated the terminal." TSA agents looked for the woman, concluded she was "lost in the crowd," and then spent time reviewing the videotape of the security checkpoint before ordering an evacuation and rescreening.

On March 8, 2003, a terminal at the Hartford, Connecticut, airport was evacuated after a screener was caught taking a late afternoon nap by an X-ray machine.

On March 11, 2003, according to Airport Security Report, TSA officials shut down the Birmingham, Alabama, international airport after "four people were discovered lurking on the airport tarmac. They fled on foot when officers questioned them about their badges identifying them as airport security workers." Dozens of flights were delayed and hundreds of people were evacuated before it was learned that the four suspicious individuals were TSA officials testing airport security.

On March 21, 2003, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport was placed under a 40-minute lockdown, prohibiting all passenger entries or exits and all plane departures. TSA agents hit the alarm when they spotted a little toy gun on a childs belt buckle in a carry-on bag.
The TSA confiscated the childs belt buckle. Spokesman
Rick DeChant announced, "Had Mom or Dad helped this kid pack, this [airport lockdown] could have been avoided."

On April 3, 2003, a passenger at Baltimore-Washington International airport refused to be rescreened after the metal detector signaled an alarm from her first pass. Instead, she walked on to her flight. Although two concourses were closed for an hour, the woman was never apprehended.

In May 2003 Americans learned that the TSA had fired scores of screeners who had been on the job for several months in Los Angeles and New York after finding that they had criminal records. The Los Angeles Times reported that the agency "lost background questionnaires, failed to run some employee fingerprints through a national crime database and was unable to complete background checks." The Times noted that congressmen began investigating the TSAs "background check process after reports that a screener at Kennedy airport was arrested earlier this year for allegedly stealing $6,000 from a passenger." At Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., the agency failed to complete background checks on more than a third of the 600 screeners. One employee complained: "It defeats the purpose of what you are here for. Its a 200-plus [person] security breach." Nationwide, more than 20,000 TSA screeners were on the job even though the government had not completed background checks on them.

One reason for the federal takeover of airport security, you may recall, is that private companies had hired screeners of dubious character and poor trustworthiness.

On March 10, 2003, a TSA press release proudly announced, "The Transportation Security Administration has intercepted more than 4.8 million prohibited items at passenger security checkpoints in its first year, contributing to the security of the traveling public and the nations 429 commercial airports." Agency chief James Loy bragged that "those statistics are strong testimony to the professionalism and attention to detail of our highly trained security screeners." A few weeks later, he upped the ante, informing the House Appropriations Committee: "We have identified, intercepted, and therefore kept off aircraft more than 4.8 million dangerous items."

And so all the fingernail clippers and cigar cutters seized since 9/11 transmogrified into proof that the federal government is protecting people better than ever. The press release did not mention that the checkpoint seizures included frying pans, dumbbell sets, horseshoes, toy robots, and an unknown but huge number of small pointy objects.

Security as Theater

Heres a more sobering measure of the agencys effectiveness: The New York Daily News celebrated the first anniversary of 9/11 by sending two reporters around the country, taking 14 flights on six airlines, and passing through 11 major airports during Labor Day weekend 2002. The reporters carried box cutters, razors, knives, and pepper spray in their luggage. They took their contraband through the checkpoints at all four of the airports used by the hijackers on 9/11. "Not a single airport security checkpoint spotted or confiscated any of the dangerous items, all of which have been banned from airports and planes by federal authorities," the paper revealed. The reporters were selected for hand searches several times, but even then nothing was found. There were more security personnel and searches than a year before, "but it amounted to nothing more than a big show."

The TSA blamed the failures on its prehistory, commenting that the Daily News findings "underscore the failures of an aviation security system inherited by the federal government last fall." A spokesman for Department of Transportation Secretary Mineta, Leonard Alcivar, greeted the findings with a spurt of positive thinking: "The reality is Americans have never had a higher level of security in the history of aviation."

There was less room for positive thinking a year later, when college student Nathaniel Heatwole pulled a similar stunt, planting box cutters and fake bombs on six different planes to probe the gaps in security. In September 2003 he sent the TSA an e-mail message explaining what he had done, in the hope of sparking improvements in the system. Instead he was brought up on charges and now faces up to 10 years in jail.

There is no series of tricks or reforms that will guarantee safe air travel. But a first step toward better security is to recognize the facades the feds have created. The TSA should no longer be permitted to burden travelers or taxpayers. The armies of federal agents occupying American airports should be disbanded. In the meantime, airports and airlines must not be shielded from liability if their negligence results in carnage. The specter of devastating liability lawsuits could produce more innovations and sounder security policies than the incentives produced by Washington political circuses.

Federal intelligence agencies should do a better job of notifying airports and airlines of specific current threats. Resources should be focused on determining actual threats, rather than treating every grandmother and toddler as a potential hijacker. And it would be helpful to amend U.S. foreign policy to reduce the number of foreigners willing to kill themselves to slaughter Americans.

In the wake of 9/11, the federal mentality toward air travelers is best summarized by the motto posted at the headquarters of the TSA air marshal training center: "Dominate. Intimidate. Control." But it takes more than browbeating average Americans to make air travel safe.

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James Bovard is the author of Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice, and Peace to Rid the World of Evil (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), from which this article is adapted.

 

Rich Parsons

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If everyone got the screening I got before and after 9/11, then I would not care. But profiling does exist, and it exists to make it easier for people to try to find problems. Yet, I am constantly the one who gets pulled aside for the extra review. Those who have travelled wit me on Air and through customs by road, did not believe it until they saw it first hand with themselves. An American born citizen, with roots back to the 1620's for his sur name, yet, is treated like an illegal alien all the time. Yet, those who have 20 to 50 years of history with this country, but fit the blonde hair blue eye appearance, get little or no inspection at all.

Oh well, when I travel / Fly next, we can see what happens then.
 

Tgace

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Well, I dont like the way Ive been treated at airports either. Hell, I once went to pick up my young daughter from a terminal in uniform (went right from work, didnt bring my gun) and had to remove my boots so they could check them. However, flying is a private enterprise and the price of speed is what we are now paying. Personally, Id rather take a train or bus than feel like a criminal at the airport these days.
 

Rich Parsons

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Tgace said:
Well, I dont like the way Ive been treated at airports either. Hell, I once went to pick up my young daughter from a terminal in uniform (went right from work, didnt bring my gun) and had to remove my boots so they could check them. However, flying is a private enterprise and the price of speed is what we are now paying. Personally, Id rather take a train or bus than feel like a criminal at the airport these days.


I drive or ride my bike most times. I fly when it is the best way for time convienece as your stated.
 

michaeledward

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If the intrusions provide me with a feeling of increased security, I might be more inclined to support them.

I was at O'Hare International Airport recently, with several hours before my flight. After I was checked and admitted, I watched the others being screened. It truly was embarrasing.

A grandmother, in a wheel chair, who from appearance did not speak English was mauled by a TSA official; the TSA officer reached her hand under the woman's backside - felt her up - it was obscene.

Another young woman, wearing 'cowgirl' type clothing, had to lose the boots, belt, hat, purse, outer garment, was patted up and down.

A third woman was forced to stand with one foot forward (much like a neutral bow), and had the hand-wand-metal-detector placed between her legs and raised up quite close to the crotch; both from the front and the back. The woman was then made to switch the stance, and the process repeated. It looked, to this casual observer, that a sexaul act was taking place with the wand.

And ... I feel absolutely no safer in the air.

But, even looking pre-TSA ... what about those safety announcements once onboard ... there are four exits - floor path lighting - how seat belts work - cushion is a floatation device - position your oxygen mask before helping others ... think of the time involved in preparing and executing that statement on every domestic and international flight ... someone should run a cost benefit analysis on this presentation ... what a waste.
 

shesulsa

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My oldest son gets stopped all the time. It's a REAL annoyance, because he's slow to respond, he doesn't speak very loud and gets agitated VERY quickly. So to the uneducated security officer, he may appear shifty. Then they all swoop down on him and I have to intervene, then they wand me again and frisk me and him and I have to talk to him the whole time to keep him calm and they tell me to shut up ....

Air travel. Fun stuff.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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I don't fly. I'll rent a car, take a train or bus before I'll consider flying.
It may take a little longer, but I get to keep my dignity.
Well, what little I have anyway. :)
 

Ping898

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Unfortunetally if you travel for work, driving or taking bus/train is usually not an option. I fly out of a smaller airport, the TSA agents aren't too swift and getting through is usually quick and painless, but when coming back especially from bigger hubs, it definitelly is a hassle, especially if you tend to travel with a lot of computer equipment like I do.
Personally I think the biggest problem with the TSA is it is such a fuzzy line, what one screener will let you go through with, another won't and there is no real chain of command to express complaints too that will not result in you missing flights, possibly getting arrested or end up on a lists that will cause you to be hassled on all future flights.
I have also found a lot of the screeners have a very short fuse. I got yelled out once cause I put a bag on top of the laptop I took out before it went through the scanner. Now it was 5am at the time and I was still half asleep, what I did made sense at the time, use as few buckets as possible, but it was an honest mistake and the guy nearly went off the deep end.
I seriously think we were better off before the TSA came around and the screening became a government organiztion.
 

FearlessFreep

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It's it any suprise that the airlines are losing money. Do less people want to fly before of fear of terrorists or fear of their own government?
 

Tgace

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I dont think many people are "afraid" of screeners. Humiliated, upset with the "customer service" aspects of the screeners (the job could be done with a much softer touch IMO), made to feel like a criminal when you have paid a lot of $$ to use a service...yes. Afraid of the government? Nah.
 

Rich Parsons

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Ping898 said:
Unfortunetally if you travel for work, driving or taking bus/train is usually not an option. I fly out of a smaller airport, the TSA agents aren't too swift and getting through is usually quick and painless, but when coming back especially from bigger hubs, it definitelly is a hassle, especially if you tend to travel with a lot of computer equipment like I do.
Personally I think the biggest problem with the TSA is it is such a fuzzy line, what one screener will let you go through with, another won't and there is no real chain of command to express complaints too that will not result in you missing flights, possibly getting arrested or end up on a lists that will cause you to be hassled on all future flights.
I have also found a lot of the screeners have a very short fuse. I got yelled out once cause I put a bag on top of the laptop I took out before it went through the scanner. Now it was 5am at the time and I was still half asleep, what I did made sense at the time, use as few buckets as possible, but it was an honest mistake and the guy nearly went off the deep end.
I seriously think we were better off before the TSA came around and the screening became a government organiztion.

Try traveling with two laptops, one a Unix based machine and another a Windows based machine, as well as the cables and then parts for your products, such as control modules for vehciles, that are just electronic black boxes. This really confuses them, and what confuses them, scares them.
 

FearlessFreep

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Afraid of the government? Nah.

Well perhaps a little overstated but it helped the duality of the sentance structure :)

Seriously, though, I do think people fear accidentally getting the wrong kind of attention and not having much recourse
 

Tgace

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IMO I think the airlines should share some of the expense/responsibility/blame for the screening process, they are the ones we pay to fly us around and they should bear some responsibility for the experience from the moment you park your car at an airport they operate out of.
 

arnisador

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The aggravation of flying has made me more likely to drive. The screening process is a definite part of that.
 

Tgace

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Ya know, that time I mentioned that I got screened in uniform. I really didnt "mind" too much, I wasnt on duty so I didnt expect any "special treatment". It just seemed strange knowing the fact that as a SWAT team member I would be one of the first guys in there with automatic weapons in an emergency, but there I was taking off my boots to get my kid from the terminal.

After it all, I bumped into the supervisor and head screener, who both were old military friends of mine (who told me I could have just "gone around" and probably confused the screeners by standing in line but I dont like using special privilege when not on official duty). What I found interesting was how "friendly" everybody was to me, from the desk people to the screeners to the people at the gate. It was nice, but at the same time kind of irked me because I remembered the attitudes when I was there not in uniform.

Now as a LEO I fully appreciate the need to be alert and the seriousness of the job, however there is a line between being "professional" and being "intimidating" or just unnecessarily rude. The problem with "some" people who get into these types of positions is that many are people who couldnt make the cut to be a LEO and are some of the more "power hungry" people out there. Note I say "some" I have also ran into some screeners who had an appreciation for the uncomfortableness of the situation and did their job well and thoroughly, but with a sense of humor and compassion.
 

Ping898

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Rich Parsons said:
Try traveling with two laptops, one a Unix based machine and another a Windows based machine, as well as the cables and then parts for your products, such as control modules for vehciles, that are just electronic black boxes. This really confuses them, and what confuses them, scares them.
That actually is close to what I tend to travel with. Unfortunetally when they get confused and thus get scared it tends to make for a more tedious and painful process to try and get on the plane. I always arrive 2-3 hours early cause it has sometimes taken me close to two hours to get through.

I agree that the airlines should share some responsibility for how you are treated, unfortunetally that won't happen anytime soon. Personally I have little to no fear of a terrorist attack when I am in a plane and more annoyance with the screeners. I wouldn't mind so much if I actually thought they were helping prevent attacks, but I don't think they are. I know at least one airport has kicked the TSA out and gone to private security. I don't know which one, but I would be interested to know how those screeners are doing compared to the TSA screeners.
 
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