Tag Archives: Airport Security

No Fly/No Gun

Democrats occupied the floor of the House of Representatives to demand that people on the federal “no fly” list be denied the right to buy firearms. But the no fly list is maintained by the incredibly incompetent TSA. Why should they get to decide whether you have your Second Amendment rights?

Bye, Bye, Body Scans: Let’s Get Rid of the TSA

Originally published by ANewDomain.net:

Here’s a modest proposal: get rid of airport security.

I’m serious. Let’s get rid of the whole insane nightmare of TSA checkpoints. No more taking off your shoes and removing your belt, no more possibly carcinogenic and definitely humiliating body scans, no more long lines. Dump the x-ray machines (which also aren’t good for you). Really.

Yeah, yeah, I understand why we have all that crap: 9/11. Also, hijacking planes became so common during the 1970s that “I’m taking this plane to Cuba” became a sitcom joke.

getting rid of the TSABut I’m willing to bet – with my life, and yes, yours, but also those of everyone I love and care about – that eliminating airport security as we know it would be a boon in many ways.

First and foremost, the hassle of flying would be greatly reduced. Shorter travel times would increase the appeal of flying; there are many people like me who drive up to six or eight hours in order to avoid flying in large part because of airline security. Because the roads are more crowded, people are dying.

Reports Bloomberg: “Researchers at Cornell University suggest that people switching from air to road transportation in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks led to an increase of 242 driving fatalities per month—which means that a lot more people died on the roads as an indirect result of 9/11 than died from being on the planes that terrible day.”

More passengers means more profits for the airlines and more face-to-face business meetings, both of which would be awesome for the economy. The impact could be enormous: during the five years after the 9/11 attacks, passenger volume dropped by 5 percent.

A recent study found that Americans avoided 38 million trips by air in the year 2013 in order to avoid security checkpoint hassles at the airport, costing the U.S. economy at least $35 billion that year alone. Extrapolating over the 14 years since the September 11 attacks, we are looking at a loss of half a trillion dollars in economic activity.

Second, taxpayers would save $7 billion a year by eliminating the TSA. That money could go to any number of better priorities, or it could be used to build more terror drones, or whatever, but still: $7 billion a year. (Obviously, we would need to find jobs for the 55,000 screeners.) That’s a lot of money, and well worth saving.

What would happen terror-wise?

What would happen terrorism-wise? Probably nothing.

Every day, millions of Americans get on subways and buses in American cities without the slightest pretense of a security check. How many of them blow up? Zero. Every day, millions of Americans ride medium-distance commuter trains and buses with similar happy results, despite the fact that they don’t have to go through a scanner first. The same goes for long-distance trains, long-distance buses, ferries and so on. (The TSA has recently begun targeting Amtrak and other forms of ground transportation, but only sporadically and – by all accounts – with no apparent results other than annoying everyone.)

If taking off our shoes is preventing another 9/11, why don’t terrorists target these other forms of transportation? Because they don’t want to, or can’t.

You are at least 2000 times more likely to commit suicide than to get killed by a terrorist.

To clarify: I’m not talking about getting rid of security. I’m talking about getting rid of the airport security checkpoints currently run by the Transportation Security Administration. I would maintain and even beef up security behind the scenes. Every plane should have several armed sky marshals aboard. (That’s not currently the case.) Check-in suitcases and cargo must be carefully tracked and scanned.

And what if someone brings a gun onto your next flight?

What if someone brings a gun on board? I’ve seen it happen. Get this: it was not a problem.

It happened in Afghanistan. Flying out of Kabul airport on a domestic flight a few years ago, I was surprised and amused to see that all of the US supplied x-ray machines were turned off and/or out of order. Passengers filed by; no one was searched. When it was time to board the flight, I observed several people casually stowing weapons, mostly AK-47 rifles, in the overheads. I’m writing this, so obviously nothing bad happened. And this was in an active war zone.

Afghans aren’t crazy or stupid. If a passenger on an Afghan plane tried to use a gun to hijack a plane, he have to contend with a planeload of similarly armed men determined to stop him. Chances of success: slim.

Which is exactly what would happen here. Since 9/11 there have been a number of incidents in which mentally disturbed people raised hell on American planes. Invariably they were overpowered, restrained and turned over to the authorities, usually by a coalition of passengers and crewmen.

That happened on a bus in Seattle recently.

let's get rid of the TSA Ted RallAnyway, it’s not like the current system screens everyone equally.

Pay $85 and submit to fingerprinting, and you can get out of having to take your laptop out of your bag, keep your shoes on, and your jacket thanks to your membership in the TSA’s PreCheck program. Determined terrorists, especially 9/11-style suicide bombers, aren’t going to be deterred by the application fee or the fingerprint requirement; after all, they know they aren’t going to be prosecuted after the bombing.

Oh, and I bet you probably guessed this one: most airport employees don’t go through any screening whatsoever. “One of the greatest vulnerabilities for this airport and probably any other major airport like MIA is the insider threat,” Lauren Stover, security director for Miami International Airport told CNN a month ago. It’s a story that many people missed at the time, but box cutters were found on several planes grounded after the 9/11 attacks; officials suspected that they were placed on board as part of an “inside job.”

In other words, they are making old ladies take off their shoes while ignoring the real threats.

Besides, whatever power there is in the argument that people who pass the TSA vetting process are less likely to commit terrorist acts is obviated by something that frequent travelers know: at many airports, security staff routinely direct ordinary, non-screened, non-PreCheck members into the PreCheck line. Which exposes the program as a fraud. And yet: there have been no attempts to hijack an American airliner since 2001.

Civil aviation demonstrates the pointlessness of airport security checkpoints. Every day, tens of thousands of airplanes leave and land at airports all over the United States, carrying passengers and cargo that haven’t undergone a screening. Defenders of the current system might argue that the risk from a smaller plane is, well, smaller. But I suspect the real reason has more to do with the fact that the wealthier, whiter pilots and passengers in the civil aviation system are simply more privileged.

Based on fear and paranoia, sucking countless man-hours and dollars out of the US economy every day, airport security in 2015 is like a religious ritual, something we all do even though nobody knows why, and those who do know that there is no reason whatsoever to do it.

Bye bye, TSA!

Nelson Mandela, Drone Victim

Nelson Mandela was on the U.S. terrorist watch list until 2008. Under President Obama, terrorists are subject to summary termination by drone strike. What would have happened to Mandela had Obama been president before 2008? Boom!

7.9% Fewer Drone Strikes

Automatic budget cuts known as the Sequester mean that the government will no longer be able to afford, for example, as many killer drone attacks.

First They Came For My Junk

The U.S. Supreme Court rules that strip-searches and body cavity searches of everyone arrested in the United States for any reason, including for minor traffic offenses, are perfectly legal.

Pre-Flight Check

Harsh new airport security measures, including pat-downs of genitals, are prompting passengers to prepare differently for their flights.

Grab ‘n’ Feel

The big topic the week seems to be airport security. Millions of white, middle- and upper-middle-class people are now experiencing what until now was experienced by mainly young men of color–arbitrary pat downs and searches.

This is mostly academic to people such as myself. I haven’t had the money to fly since 2006.

But it should be obvious to people what would be most effective in this situation: Boycott the airlines until the nonsense stops. People’s voices and votes may not be worth much these days, but the “dollar votes” are still heard loud and clear by those in power. Vote with your dollars.

But of course, I know you won’t listen. You never do. You’re gonna keep flying, and you’re gonna stand in line at 4am this Friday morning to buy crap shipped in from China.

Get a clue. Please.

Susan out.

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Rape My Brain But Don’t Touch My Junk

Why TSA Molesters Are Striking a Nerve

“Don’t touch my junk!” Will this be the battle cry of the next American Revolution?

If you think about it, it’s amazing. Why this? But thinking doesn’t have anything to do with it.

There’s a good reason. Which we’ll get to.

“This,” of course, is the intrusive new security-screening regimen at 68 major U.S. airports. You can walk through one of the new “backscatter” body-image X-ray scanners, suck up 2.4 microrems of radiation, and live with the knowledge that a high-res version of your nude flabby body is being stored on some government database so that the Palin Administration will be able to kill you for food and use your cyborg doppelganger as a slave laborer in the living hell that will be the year 2015.

Or you can choose the pat-down. But think twice. By all accounts, the pat-down procedure is thorough. Extremely thorough.

“I didn’t really expect her to touch my vagina through my pants,” schoolteacher Kaya McLaren, an elementary schoolteacher from Washington state told The New York Times about her experience at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. What prompted this feel-up? “The body scanner detected a tissue and a hair band in her pocket,” reported The Times.

Verily, the end times draw nigh. The New York Times is talking dirty.

A visit to the TSA’s official blog (blog.tsa.gov) furthers the impression that the Obama Administration has jumped the security shark. One citizen asks: “Is touching the genitals a mandatory or discretionary part of the pat-down? Will the screener give notice and ask for consent prior to touching the breasts, vagina, penis or scrotum?” Another asks: “Can they spread the buttocks to feel if something is concealed between them? Can they move the penis or testicles aside to see if something is strapped to a man’s leg? Can they lift up breasts to feel underneath them?”

There’s something terribly wrong when a federal government website gets too racy for online parental control software.

CNN’s Rosemary Fitzpatrick reported that an airport screener “ran her hands around her breasts, over her stomach, buttocks and her inner thighs, and briefly touched her crotch.” In Charlotte a flight attendant was ordered to remove and display her prosthetic breast.

It’s happening to guys too. Men wearing baggy pants report TSA personnel, some of whom are convicted rapists and child molesters, sticking their hands down their trousers and ferreting out their naughty bits. In a bit of surrealism recalling my “Al Kidda” cartoon (in which terrorists take advantage of the fact that children aren’t required to show ID to board a plane) there are now YouTube videos showing little kids getting felt up by the TSA.

TSA workers at Miami Airport got caught passing around printed scans of a man they deemed to fall short in the male endowment department. A 61-year-old cancer survivor from Michigan wound up “humiliated, crying and covered with his own urine after an enhanced pat-down by TSA officers” at the Detroit Airport. The oafs broke the seal on his urostomy bag.

There was, naturally, no apology.

Remember the good old days of the early 2000s, when the only thing the TSA did was announce their favorite color of the day?

Of all the indignities inflicted upon the flying public since 9/11, the radiation/molestation combo strikes me as relatively minor. I’m still scarred by the sight of the young Iraq War vet in front of me at Kansas City airport security. Both of his legs had been lost in an IED blast in the Middle East. Instead of respect or a free pass at the metal detector, TSA goons repeatedly grilled and humiliated him about the titanium in his body.

Contrast this with Iran. Yes, Iran. As at security checkpoints throughout the country, I was waved past the checkpoint at Tehran’s Ayatollah Kholmeni International Airport in August as soon as I presented my U.S. passport. As guests, foreigners are not subject to most bag searches. Not even citizens of the Great Satan.

Don’t touch our special parts, but feel free to poke around our frontal lobes.

If Richard Nixon had been accused of listening to every American’s phone calls and reading their mail, there would have been riots. But that’s exactly what the National Security Agency has been doing since 9/11. Bush started it; Obama made it official. They’re reading your email and listening to your phone calls and tracking your bank statements. It’s a fact. And no one cares.

Personally, I’d rather have the government touch my junk than rape my brain.

Now that they’re feeling up our privates at the airport—with, truth be told, considerably more justification than the NSA has for reading your Facebook status updates—the American people are freaking out.

Which should come as little surprise to Obama’s pet louts at the TSA.

The United States, after all, was founded by Puritans. The folks we’re celebrating this week were religious fanatics, prudes, crazy repressed and so far off the charts that they were too uptight to get along with the British. Immigration has helped loosen us up, but that’s still our national culture.

I had hoped that when the revolution came, it would be about economic injustice or torture or racism. But, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you don’t revolt with the revolutionaries you wish you had. If this is the beginning of the end, so be it.

Say it all together: Don’t touch my junk!

(Ted Rall is the author of “The Anti-American Manifesto.” His website is tedrall.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2010 TED RALL