Friday, November 19, 2010

Holiday Travel Brings Up TSA Screening Practices

The new passenger screening procedures by the Transportation Security Administration seem to be rather intrusive. The new body scanners show everything you have, and, if you refuse that, you can expect to be felt up by a TSA employee with their new frisking technique. All is being done in the name of safety and security, and there are plenty of people that support the TSA’s position.

There are, however, many that aren’t ok with this. Personally, I would rather not be exposed to the world in a body scanner nor given the business by a TSA employee, but, as someone that flies every once in a while, it really doesn’t affect me all that often.

So, what makes this a political issue? The Libertarian Party of Indiana has taken a stance against the TSA’s screening procedures at Indianapolis International Airport. I guess Ed Coleman now knows how to vote if this comes up in front of him on the City-County Council. Libertarians have little in the way of muscle to push any agenda through any legislative body, but it is consistent with the platform of their party. I salute them for taking a stand.

It’s a tricky position for the two parties in control of Washington. It could also signify the first Tea Party vs. Republican Party showdown. You see, many opposing the TSA’s methods of screening passengers are saying that it clearly violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution for unreasonable search and seizure. Many of the ones yelling and screaming are Tea Partiers.

They have a point. Exposing my naughty bits when there’s no reason to think I’m a terrorist may be unreasonable. In this day and age, though, it seems that the TSA is thinking that everyone that buys a plane ticket might just be a terrorist. I’m not so sure that’s the right way to do it, either. The purchasing of a plane ticket should not be an invitation for a sexual assault (which some people are calling the TSA’s techniques, now).

There’s another side to this, though.

Let’s say Congress follows through and takes a hard look at what the TSA is doing. Let’s say that, for example, they force the TSA to lighten their techniques and do away with the body scanners and aggressive pat downs. You cannot get upset and say that the government has gone soft on preventing terrorism if the awful happens. I think you understand what I mean without going into too much detail. It’s a Catch-22 for the government. Keep up the hard line techniques and get complaints or let down the guard and be at more of a risk.

So, for now, if you don’t want to be searched in the way the TSA will likely search you, rent a car and drive. If you plan to fly, be ready to take off your belt, your shoes, and empty those pockets. Be sure to leave your water bottles behind (I almost got busted in the Tampa Airport for having one of those) and certainly keep your seats and tray tables in the upright and locked position on landing.


Jason266 said...

I completely agree with you. I see TSA screening as a vacinnation. No, nobody likes it, but it protects not just you, but everybody.

Like you said, if you don't like it, don't fly.

Anonymous said...

Although I am very willing to participate with the new security measures/techniques, I do not want my children exposed to either the scan or the intrusive frisking.

Anonymous said...

This is much ado about nothing. Flying is not a right but a privilege. These practices are annoying but they are necessary. If it increases the chances of detecting a bomb or weapon then I am all for it. These whiners on the tv news need to just simply make the decision drive or take a bus.

Andrew "Boxy" Troemner said...

Hrm, maybe the City-County Council could do something about this.

Apparently, cities can opt out of TSA screening by paying for a private screening agency:

In the same article, it notes that New York City is banning the backscatter screening method altogether while retaining TSA. So those might be some options for the City-County Council to decide on.

Indy Student said...

"Keep up the hard line techniques and get complaints or let down the guard and be at more of a risk."

Not a single terrorist has been stopped by a TSA search. TSA is largely security theatre.

As someone who has both a C-pap machine that I use as carry on luggage AND an implanted cardiac pacemaker, I have always had to go the "frisking" route. It's very demeaning, and from my research on the TSA, they have very, very low standards for hiring. I have only had one unpleasant experience with being screened at the City-County Building by a Sheriff's Deputy, but that's because he was being a dick rather than not being competent at his job. I've walked into federal buildings and was also similarly patted down and searched while seeing then-candidate Obama speak in 2008, and felt each of these groups of security performed a similar task in a much more professional manner than the TSA has ever done their similar task.

Indianapolis Observer said...

Not a single terrorist has been stopped by a TSA search. TSA is largely security theatre.

Absolutely! And, we're not the only ones who think so.

The real security experts (and I'm not talking about the amateurs at TSA) know that this screening is all smoke and mirrors. It does NOT protect anyone.

Don't believe me? El Al doesn't use those body scanners!

Check out this:

Anonymous said...

El Al has 3400 flights a day while US airlines have tens of thousands. Let's compare apples to apples. I think a small minority of Americans have become chronic whiners. All polls show that while not thrilled that the huge majority of the flying public supports this program.

Please name the agency that let's you pay to avoid security checks. I don't think one exists. Someone has taken the bait of one of the whiners or is misinformed.

kris said...

i fly lots, and i have been through one of these machines once. aside from the minute amount of radiation (you probably get as much at the dentist) and someone in a room seeing your private (read: now public) parts, it wasn't all that intrusive or time consuming.

i guess the tsa can "touch your junk" now. maybe i'll try that method next time.

Indy Student said...

"All polls show that while not thrilled that the huge majority of the flying public supports this program."

But we are not a pure democracy. We are a democratic-republic. We elect representatives to study the issues and educate themselves so they can make informed decisions on our behalf.

These new regulations, to the best of my knowledge, came from bureaucracy and not from legislation.

The TSA has yet to capture a single terrorist. They're not so dumb as to actually try to sneak a bomb through luggage. But they are smart enough to try to sneak bombs into cargo only planes, which as has been reported since the printer-bomb scare, DO NOT GET SCREENED AT ALL!

As for the radiation, that really is a red herring on the part of Alex Jones tin foil hat conspiracy folks. The "enhanced" pat downs as well as the various documented abuses that the TSA has committed against Americans with disabilities and anyone who falls outside the norm is much, much worse. There has been documented cases of theft, sleeping on the job, and searching for objects other than weapons and bombs.

Add on top of that that the "No Fly List" is now said to contain over 400,000. The late Senator Ted Kennedy had a variant of his name ("T Kennedy") listed on the No Fly List at one point, and only because he was a Senator that had direct access to then Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge was he able to get it removed. Lord forbid if someone whose actual name was "T Kennedy" (Kennedy's first name, as I'm sure you all know, was Edward, not Ted) was denied flying and had no way to appeal their name appearing on the No Fly List.

I really encourage everyone to go read the Top Secret America project that the Washington Post has been writing up. It's an excellent piece on how we've dumped untold money into security, and no one knows whose in charge and who is supposed to be doing what. It is a complete farce that we are made safer by more government regulation, and I believe we're made much safer from the hard work of our field agents of the FBI, CIA, and our military than any government buearcrat employed under the TSA.

Indy Student said...

I also encourage everyone to call Congressman Carson's office to support H.R. 6416: The American Traveler Dignity Act. I already have before the bill was introduced, but I'll be calling again on Monday to express my support again.

Jon E. Easter said...

Here's my question, and I raised it in the post.

What if something major happens and a terrorist attacks via an airplane after we, hypothetically, drop these enhanced screening techniques? Certainly no one wants any of this to happen, but would there be a backlash from many of the same people that are pushing the TSA issue now against those who voted or signed off on a bill to do away with the body scanners, etc.?

What are your thoughts?

This is a no-win situation for Congress and Obama.

Indy Student said...

The thing is, Jon, the screening practices, as currently practiced by the TSA, haven't stopped a single terrorist. It's stopped contraband that,99% of the time hasn't been involved in prior terrorist hijacks/attempted hijacks.

"What if something major happens and a terrorist attacks via an airplane after we, hypothetically, drop these enhanced screening techniques?"

Then we look at the situation and look at that specific security hole and fix it. Right now, what the TSA has done is apply a one-size-fits-all approach.

Hell, they aren't even all that good about contraband either. Every year it seems like some media agency or citizen tries to see what kind of stuff they can sneak onto a plane, and they have a pretty high success rate.

One other note, it's obvious the TSA hasn't been trained very well in these enhanced pat downs. It's not supposed to be grabbing a female's chest, it's supposed to go down, straight, between them.

Only more proof that these people are not qualified to secure our airports. Hire a private security firm, remove their qualified immunity, and watch as disgruntled passengers accept any changes because they'll be handled by professionals, not bureaucrats.

Anonymous said...

What proof do you have that the TSA has never stopped a search. What about a terrorist being deterred by the knowledge that he/she would be searched? What about all of the weapons discovered by searches? Were these all simple forgetfulness or part of a plan? There is mass hysteria among some who think a pat down is some sort of sex act and that some one is getting their sexual thrills doing it. I imagine most of the people bitching never fly or only fly once or twice a year. They also probably have no sex life or they would realize that this does not begin to qualify as any type of sexual act or assault. Someone needs to get a life. In the meantime, keep up the searches to make our flights safer.