Ridiculous or not: Just who does the TSA think it is?

Hardly a day seems to go by that I don’t get a complaint about the Transportation Security Administration.

Today it’s Judi Kutzko’s turn. She believes many air travelers like her are afraid to stand up to the agency for fear of being blacklisted.

“TSA can — and often does — make things miserable for anyone who speaks up,” she says.

(Indeed, it took some convincing to let me share her grievance with you here. You’re a brave woman, Judi.)

So what, exactly, happened to her?

A few weeks ago she was flying out of Bradley International Airport in Connecticut when a TSA agent rudely ordered her through the airport’s full-body scanner.

“She said because it was a Saturday and not many people were waiting, they were X-raying everyone,” she says. “I was told to remove my jewelry, and before I could take off my watch, the TSA agent ripped it off my arm and threw it in the bin. Thank goodness it didn’t break.”

Kutzko had some trouble wiggling out of her medical-alert bracelet, and finally the agent told her, “Oh, never mind. Just get in the machine and hold your arms up.”

She asks how, precisely, this security theater is keeping America’s skies safer.

Also, to use the vernacular, what is up with the TSA?

It’s a good time to ask. The TSA is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month, which is the perfect occasion to reflect on what the agency had done – and continues to do – to air travelers.

Kutzko and the many other travelers who have claimed during the last several weeks that the TSA is forcing them through the scanners are almost certainly the victims of an overzealous agent. The agency site is clear that the body scanners are optional.

Then again, TSA might have issued a secret order telling agents they could insist passengers use the scanners, contrary to its published policy.

If it has done that, it wouldn’t be able to tell me because, see, it’s a secret order.

Kutzko and others like her tell me they’re appalled by the agency’s apparent lack of accountability.

Incidentally, her story doesn’t end there.

“After the X-ray I heard her speak into a walkie-talkie and say, ‘OK, she’s clear’,” she told me. “I started toward the bin to retrieve my belongings, only to have the TSA agent block my path and say, ‘Where do you think you’re going? I’m not done with you yet.’”

Turns out there was “something” about her arms that had made them suspicious. She needed to be patted down. Kutzko told her that was “ridiculous” since she was wearing a sleeveless shirt.

“They were just doing this because they can,” she says.

I agree. I’m willing to bet that a 72-year-old retiree wearing a medical bracelet is not going to blow up a plane.

She wonders: Just who does the TSA think it is?

That may well work as a rhetorical question. But it is also answerable, to a certain degree.

TSA is an agency that thinks it can operate in secret, with little or no accountability. It is an agency that believes the rules – even the ones that it sets for itself – don’t necessarily apply to it.

On a more practical level, the TSA thinks that frisking grandmothers and forcing them through a scanner is not only completely acceptable.

It seems to also think that it can be rude about the whole thing.

It is easy for someone like me to be outraged by these clear violations of our dignity, if not our civil liberties. After all, I’ve been covering the most unpopular government agency since its inception a decade ago. I have been threatened by the TSA, lied to by it and been served with an illegal subpoena to force me to name a source (I didn’t).

But until everyday passengers share my disappointment with the way the agency operates, I’m afraid the answer to the question, “Just who does the TSA think it is?” will be: Whatever the hell it wants to be.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • http://butterflyist.com Andrea

    I always dread coming though US airports because of the ‘little Hitler’ approach of the staff, although having been through several in the States, I seem to have had the worst experiences at JFK. In fact, it’s often even made me consider whether I want to bother bringing my tourist money to the USA when I can take it elsewhere where I’ll be treated with a more welcome attitude when entering and leaving the country – rather than a criminal.

    I think this is the thing with the TSA – it forgets that most people are not actually criminals or terrorists, they’re just tourists or business travellers.

    In the UK, the situation isn’t quite as bad and it seems for the most part, travellers are still treated like the customers that they are (though I had a recent occasion at Manchester airport where the staff
    were being needlessly petty over my zip up clear plastic bag that I had
    my liquids in).

    So yes, while you end your post with the comment that the TSA will be whatever it wants to be, as I said, I have started to seriously consider whether I want to bother with being a tourist in America. I know many people with a similar attitude. So maybe the TSA (and America’s tourist organisations) need to think about this.

  • ChrisY

    I know we blame the big government mindset for the TSA. And that is partly true.  But the bigger issue in my mind (that I bring up here frequently) is that the TSA is staffed in great part by ignorant, uneducated dropouts. 

    The TSA was a monolith created out of thin air.  Did anyone think that it would be staffed with security experts who were at the top of their fields?  Where would these best-in-class people come from, if not already employed by the FBI, local law enforcement, or private security and investigation firms?

    Of course, the reality was that the TSA rank and file were generally unemployed, undereducated, and had no relevant experience.  They then put these (pardon the phrase) idiots in a position of power that they never would have otherwise experienced because they are not exactly cut from leadership cloth.

    So you wind up with “mall cop” syndrome in a much more serious setting and with much more dire consequences.  And yet people act surprised when planted contraband gets through.  These are not geniuses, folks.  In fact, we have put some of the most ignorant people our country has to offer in charge of our safety.  I just hope we’re waking up to that fact!

  • Larry B

    And who was that U.S. Senator from South Dakota who said “In order to Professionalize, we must Federalize? BTW, the system and workers in place on 9/11/01 did not fail. Box cutters were not illegal at the time.

  • Kim6160

    I travel frequently for work and pleasure so I feel like I have seen the best and the worst of TSA. Unfortunately, Judi Kutzko flew to Bradley where I have repeatedly experienced the worst. That particular airport’s screeners are so rude and unprofessional that my husband and I drive 7+ hours to Connecticut rather than fly for the simple reason that we don’t want to deal with the screeners there. The fact that TSA at one airport can be so dramatically different from one airport to another is to me an example of a poorly managed organization.

  • Kathleen

    I’ve posted about this many times.  What we need is SMARTER security.  TSA workers are only required to have a GED and a basic command of the English language – TSA competes with McDonalds for employees.  They make about $12/hour – who do you think we have screening us?  We don’t have highly trained people asking us questions we have a mix from competent to ridiculous individuals who have little educations, little experience and LOTS of power.

  • Dave

    That was Tom Daschle. I’m glad South Dakota voters finally realized he was too far left to truly represent their values. Too bad we are stuck with Tim Johnson – another Dummycrat – for three more years.

  • DanielK

    And you think we would be better off if we instead outsourced the security to private firms, so supervisors hundreds of miles away could walk off with huge profits, while hiring the cheapest employees they can find, with no accountability?

  • http://www.pipdigital.com Nancy Dickinson

    6 people have voted so far that TSA is doing a great job?  Wow… Looks like they’re trolling your column, Chris, the TSA employees.  I wonder how many terrorists got through their security line because they were busy reading your column and playing Angry Birds?

    Oh, wait… My fault – they don’t actually stop terrorists.  They allow them to board unhindered so the passengers on the plane can stop them…

  • jerryatric

    Try going through Amsterdam’s airport. Agents there as rude as any TSA agent. Barking out orders, forcing the elderly through full body scans, & if you don’t understand their commands immediately – WATCH OUT! They yell & even push you in the direction they want you to go to. All airport staff there rude as H.

  • Bob

    An article in the Wall St. Journal a few weeks ago discussed the people with various levels of status and power.  The people with low status and lots of power (the TSA, for example) treated people the worst and had no problem demaining and humiliating them.

  • Shari_R

    The ten year of anniversary of a bloated, impotent, invective waste of liberty and time. And still there are people out there ho will gladly roll over and let the TSA have it’s way – even if that way is a useless violation of personal liberties – because it’s done under the guise of “making travel safe.” I personally don’t feel any more secure because of the TSA, rather I cringe at the money spent and the freedoms lost because of it.

  • Mbods2002

    I can’t believe this agency exists, period and they are allowed to continue on with NO accountability.  If this doesn’t stop we are all in for a “new” America, one we will hardly recognize but will seem similar to other dictorial regimes….  And whose fault will it be?  OURS, because we’re allowing it WITHOUT protest.  We should all know by now it’s a power play for control and if you fall for the “The TSA is keeping us safe” baloney, there is no hope for you and in turn our country.

  • Clare

    Indeed, Judi is a brave woman, Chris, for allowing you to identify her by name.  The next time she flies–if she ever does again–and the TSA give her Special Treatment in retaliation for talking to you, I hope that she will give you the full story and you can publish it as a follow-up for all the world to see! 

    Judging by the voting, at the moment it appears that there are 14 TSA trolls reading your column.  (Either that, or 14 people read the question backwards and now there’s no way to undo their votes…)

  • Clare

    DanielK, why not just come out and identify yourself as a TSA employee?  Who else could make such an idiotic suggestion, that a private firm doing airport security would make huge profits and have no accountability?!  Apparently you are suggesting that the TSA is a charitable organization, that hires the cream of the crop at appropriately high salaries and is held fully accountable for its actions?  And that before the TSA, there was no airport security at all, right?  Good grief, try thinking before you babble next time, willya?

  • JoanEisenstodt

    Oh this matches my experiences. Sometimes I am patted down because as one TSA agent said “Your skirt is long – we can’t see your contours” and this after going through the full body scanner at DCA. Another DCA experience was because my sox (under my non-contour revealing long skirt) showed up as “marks” on my legs. It happens at some other airports but not usually.  And for those of us who move a little slower, TSA is not patient.

    One more thing: last year, I was hit in the head by bins badly held by a TSA agent who wasn’t looking where he was going. The supervisor was so rude refusing to help me even tho’ it was clear I’d been hit.

    I fly often; I don’t feel safer bec. of TSA; and yes, if one speaks up, repurcussions (like not being able to get to one’s flight) happen.

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    These abuses will continue as long as the sheeple put up with them.  Nothing will change, except for the worse.

  • carolm

    I have noticed the enforcing of scanners and  pat down of my arms too.
    In Atlanta, the TSA worker reminded me of the Nazi and we were the Jews, being herded in and yelled at like a bunch of dumb sheep. Which we are as long as we “obey” the TSA…Plus they went through out suitcases all through our trips!! We live in Alaska, but my husband and I decided that
    we will change our trips to the lower states differently. We are humans and  Americans, we’ve done nothing to deserve this treatment- like we are the enemy.
    We are losing so much our “freedom”!

  • Ellen

    I’ve gone through Amsterdam’s airport several times and NEVER experienced anything like this. In fact one the last times I found them to be very accommodating as our inbound flight was late causing us to miss our connection – they were organized and quickly able to get us on another flight. I had also gone through the full body scanner and forgot that I had a chap stick tucked into my bra, the attendant was very courteous and discreet, she did nothing to embarrass me in any way. The TSA in the US – another story completely.

  • Mike B

    I’m still amazed people still use the “I’m willing to bet that a 72-year-old retiree” or “5 year old son” thing. Everyone should be treated the same or next time the bomb will come onto the plane with someone in that age range. Yes, there has to be a better way than touching the privates of a 10 year old, but they shouldn’t get a free pass just because they are 10, or 72.

  • Jenny

    Not in any way condoning anything that the article describes, but in general, I don’t agree with this statement:

    “I’m willing to bet that a 72-year-old retiree wearing a medical bracelet is not going to blow up a plane.”
    If they give an automatic pass based on age or presence of a medical bracelet or any criteria, that could become a problem.

  • Prov35wo

    What, exactly, do we do about it? Letters we write are dismissed. Make a stink at the airport and you get arrested. Short of a mass demonstration (Occupy Airport?) with a coordinated effort of all the flying public, I fail to see how we can make a positive difference. Reasonable suggestions, anyone?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    Nancy, this is exactly what I was thinking. As of the time of my post 21 people think the TSA is doing a great job. 

    Seriously, this must be the same 21 people that think if you purchase a non-refundable airplane ticket, the airlines should still refund it if you cancel because “it’s the right thing to do”. 

  • Geoff

    TSA is overpaid, over trodden, ultra sensative, and really needs to be re-invented.
    I am an escort, so I see this monthly.
    1) I had a 13 year old in a beautiful new sweater on her class trip. The steel threading I assume set off the detector. She is placed in an acrylic cubicle for 35 minutes until the Dulles female patter downer gots to her. She was embarrassed to death and crying continuously. Her teacher had gone through security and was not allowed back. 100’s of people stared at the situation. I was tempted to post it on the internet, but it would have been KIDDIE PORN!
    2) Next day – 2nd group. There was a blind student with a walking cane. You got it; 25 minutes for the official cane analizer to appear. This time, her guide was at least with her.
    3) March 2011 – arriving home to Pittsburgh from Cancun. You have to go through security again when arriving from an international destination in Pittsburgh. One of the most beautiful women I have ever seen was on huge crutches with Polio. We were going to the Holiday Inn and 30 minutes later she came in the door. They took her crutches apart; she was handicapped and they virtually ruined her all but perfect trip.
    4) My daughter was assisting on a trip. Shis was 16. NO ID NEEDED. They put her then me through the most intense screening of my traveling career as I forbid her (principle at play) to show her ID.

    TSA need as swift kick in the pants.

    On the day they held the sweater child, I watched them allow a teacher through with absolutely no ID. TSA missed her on the outbound flight and had her sign a paper to return.

  • LeeAnneClark

    And you have evidence that a 72-yr-old grandmother, or a 5-yr-old boy, or a diaper-wearing baby or elderly person in a wheelchair have ever been involved in a terrorist plot on American soil?

    Hint: IT’S NEVER HAPPENED. So remind me again WHY are we spending 8 billion dollars a year to prevent something from happening that’s NEVER HAPPENED?

  • LeeAnneClark

    Again, do you have any evidence that a 72-yr-old American retiree has ever been involved in a terrorist plot?


    Just because something could “theoretically” happen doesn’t mean we should spend 8 billion dollars a year trying to prevent it from happening. Hey, some lunatic could decide to walk into the Mall of America and blow it up at any time. So should we install TSA-style checkpoints at the entrance to every mall?

    And what makes you think terrorists are so hellbent on blowing up only airplanes? If a terrorist wants to blow up Americans, why go to all the trouble to get onto an airplane? Why not blow up a bus (as in Israel) or a train) as in Madrid) or a nightclub (as in Bali)?

  • Karen

    I don’t mind being patted down.  I wear hair clips and always get patted down after walking through the scanner.  I was patted down this time in Reykjavik and Paris coming back to the states because I set off the scanner. In Reykjavik and Paris, it was done professionally and politely –fine no problem.  But leaving Minneapolis Humphrey airport, I was rudely patted down and groped by a woman who obviously wasn’t in a good mood that day or didn’t know how to act like a professional.   No wonder all the Europeans and Austrailians  who I talked to on my vacation don’t want to come back to the United States.  Our TSA is getting a bad reputation  from non-citizens.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Write your Congresscritter. Write letters to the editor. Talk to your friends…get them to understand that this is wrong and unAmerican – and STOP being sheeple. Opt out of the scanner – and INSIST that they allow you your legal RIGHT to opt out. You don’t have to make a scene – just stand up for your rights.

    The key thing is, if every traveling American can at least recognize how wrong all of this is, and will speak up (and write letters to Congress), something WILL be done. The problem is that too few Americans recognize that there is a problem, so the TSA is able to claim that the vast majority of Americans are satisfied with it.

    We need to get the truth out, raise awareness, and ensure that NO American travelers are satisfied with the TSA and its abuses.

  • Frozenfish

    I have many friends and family in Germany who will not come to visit us because of the TSA. My son is getting married next week and we have only one guest from Germany, family members will not come because of the TSA and being finger printed etc. They will spend their money somewhere else and they have 6 weeks vacation per year to do so. As for JFK, never fly in or out from this airport, TSA workers have a mental disorder in this airport.  

  • Brooklyn

    “Then again, TSA might have issued a secret order telling agents they
    could insist passengers use the scanners, contrary to its published
    If it has done that, it wouldn’t be able to tell me because, see, it’s a secret order.”

    Your tinfoil hat is on crooked again.  Secret orders, really?  That more than a bit paranoid. 

  • Brooklyn

    It needs to be a choice.  I won’t accept a pat down – my god why would I want anyone’s hands on me – but the scanner is no big deal.

  • Brooklyn

    “…The problem is that too few Americans recognize that there is a problem,”

    You might wish to consider that only a statistically insignificant percentage of the population even cares about this issue.  I’m sure you never have. 

    Want proof?  Walk down your street and ask your neighbors, how many would go out of their way to even write a letter objecting to the TSA (not just respond, oh yeah I hate them too).  if you find one out of a thousand you will be lucky.

  • NPR

    of course everyone is wrong and you’re right.  How’s that unemployment working out?

  • Lemmie

    Riiight, they aren’t coming because of the TSA.  I’m sure that is the reason.  (and you believe them??  LOLOLOLOLOL)

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not unemployed.  Far from it.

  • Rowan Wood

    Great editorial. I agree that until we the people stand up together, there will be no accountability. The past is the best predictor of the future. I am not optimistic.

  • Rowan Wood

    We would be better off if our government were not committing sexual assault and rights violation to create their security theater.

  • Susan N

    Just because it’s never happened doesn’t mean that it never will happen. Besides, you could easily get into discrimination issues if you give different people different treatments for no other reason than how they look.

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Not paranoid in the least.  If you’ve read the accounts of the TSA over the past few years, you’ll see that time and time again, they cite “SSI” rather than answer a question.  Everything to this agency is SSI.  Pistole and his minions are the paranoid ones, not Chris.

  • Rowan Wood

    Probably time to check out meds and talk therapy for your paranoia…

  • Rowan Wood

    Join We Won’t Fly on Facebook, too.

  • Susan N

    Agreed completely.
    Why don’t we (as a country or group of people) worry about issues such as taxes, wars in the Middle East, medicare and the like that actually affect the whole country, and have a much bigger impact on people?

  • http://fttusa.org Jeff

    First, there has been NO working non-metallic bomb that has been tried on a US flight since 1963. Let me repeat: 0 in 48 years.

    Globally, there were 2 failed attempts on every flight since 1997. The 2 you know of (2006 shoe bomber and 2009 underwear bomber) failed miserably despite Al-Quedas best bomb-maker having 5 and 8 years respectively to plan, develop, test, refine, and finalize a non-metallic bomb. The US has about 9 million flights a year, we are maybe 40% of world traffic, so that is 20 million flights x 10 years or 200 million flights globally. 0 successful non-metallic bombs. There is no “next time”.

    Either you live with the risk which is less than your risk of getting shot in a Phoenix Supermarket, getting bitten by a shark, and certainly getting killed by lightning (29 a year, average, in US). Or, you can throw the constitution under the bus and succumb to your irrational fears. The simple, legal metal detectors and 100% checked baggage (and cargo on passenger planes screened at 100%) worked for 9 years prior to groping us in criminal ways, and they still work now despite the fact we don’t have 100% passenger screening with strip search scanners. Really, there is no significant threat.

    The liquid bomb plot of 2005 was discovered by intelligence agencies. Good detective work is our best security. There was a liquid bomb used in Brazil in 1997 (1 person killed, the plane landed safely, thank you) and we didn’t do anything for 8 years…no problem.

    So, the 10 and 72 yr old and you and I and Chris Elliott should get a free pass from being strip searched or sexually assaulted – we are US citizens and we have a constitution.

  • Susan N

    Honestly, Chris, I’m getting tired of the “issues with the TSA” columns. Not saying that they are right or wrong, but there seems to be a new article every week if not more often that says the exact same thing.
    Also, when it is filled with hyperbole without many/any real facts and issues that we can do anything about, I find it hard to actually find anything to take away from them (other than ‘Chris still doesn’t like the TSA’).

  • Jeff

    Jenny, we don’t have 100% strip searches today using scanners. We don’t have 100% touching of penis, testicles, vulva, and female breasts of all airline passengers today.

    Therefore, it IS a problem by your logic today so I have to assume you have stopped flying. Yet nothing has happened. Think about it.
    See reply above for the actual statistics.

  • Jason

    Since when have politicians in this country cared about people?
    To most people, there are much more pressing issues worth writing about anyways.

  • Rachel80

    I’m sure you’re waiting for the day that a terrorist blows up something else that isn’t a plane so you can say “Ha! Terrorism screening at airports is useless as they just go attack us elsewhere!”

  • Frozenfish

    Lemmie, you are a TSA troll. Last time any family member was in the USA was 5 years ago and they will not come again because of the TSA, they live in free countries and don’t need to spend their money in the USA, if you want people to come here, welcome them! In the last 5 years they went to Australia, to Singapore, to Thailand, I had to go visit them in Germany (not through JFK!).   

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    The great thing about freedom of speech is that people are (ostensibly anyway) free to say what they want, and others are free to read/listen to what they want.  No one is forcing anyone else to read this blog. 

    And we already know that all the empirical evidence in the world, much of which has been repeatedly printed here, isn’t going to convince anyone who chooses to ignore it. 

    As for hyperbole, he’s not the one engaging in it.  He writes dozens of entries about other things for every one he writes about the TSA.  That’s a fact easily proven by anyone who looks at the entries here.

  • Kazol

    nice information ….. its helps me

  • David

    Oh whatever.  Really, TSA’s your big problem with America?  You’re going to avoid a country of 360 million people because of 3 minutes at a security checkpoint upon departure?  

    This stuff just sounds like nutty Drama Queen silliness.  You don’t like the TSA – fine, whatever, everybody has a gripe.  It’s the old, “I’ll never fly this airline again” until they have the right schedule and price, and then everyone does fly them again.

    As for the OP, I seriously doubt it went down as they stated.  Possible, but not probable.  Based on literally hundreds of encounters with the TSA, my experience has ranged from professional and courteous the bland and indifferent.  But never “over the top” rude and disrespectful.   

    So perhaps she really remembered it that way, but like lots of complaints about the TSA, when they actually roll the tape, it’s nothing like “they ripped my child from my arms” that the passenger says it is.  I’m not defending the TSA because I wasn’t there, but smart and reasonable people know there’s two sides to every story.  

  • David

    Is it any wonder?  With all the vitriol against any government worker, who would want to do this job?  You want smart, educated, professionals, quit whining about government pay and pensions.  You get what you pay for, as the old saying goes.  Make it an attractive job in terms of pay and benefits, and you’ll get good workers.  Pay crap and threaten to cut benefits, and you’ll get the lower grade workers.  Capitalism 101…… 

  • Susan N

    Of course we have freedom of speech. Which is why I can comment as I like, and you can comment as you like. Nothing wrong with that.
    I was just giving feedback on the article here.

    As for evidence, yes, there has been empirical evidence on several occasions, but I don’t see anything new most of the time, just repetition of what has been said before here on this and other sites.
    As for the hyperbole, yes, a lot of it is from whoever has a sob story about the TSA, which is what it is. But I see more added at times, and without any new facts other than anecdotes, it’s hard to see where any real content come in.

  • David

    Dear Clare – have you heard about capitalism?  The purpose of capitalism is to maximize profits for the owners.  You do that by having the lowest possible cost product that you can sell for the highest possible price.  Not sure you want profit motive to be the overriding concern in your airport security. Not that profits are bad, they’re not.  They’re very, very good.  Just probably shouldn’t be the top priority in airport security.

  • Cliffordpwoodrick

    Perhaps if everyone stripped to a bathing suit (women two piece) when approaching the TSA with photographers, that this may influence the TSA to treat us as lawbiding citizens and not terrorists. The more I think about this the more I like it.

    Have a wonderful Day – Cliff

  • ButMadNNW

    Why can’t we worry about all those things simultaneously? You don’t know about the other posters here; those urging people to write letters protesting the TSA might also be doing the same thing for wars, taxes, Medicare, etc.

    Way to assume.

  • Joe Farrell

    No one was angry at the time the TSA was created except those of us who saw it as a huge power grab – and that it would be virtually impossible to get rid of because of a) people just trust their govt and think that this agency is needed to ‘keep us safe,’ and b) once a govt gets police power it rarely gives it up voluntarily.  

    We now have a huge secretive organization staffed mostly by bureaucrats whose power in DC is related to the size of their . . . .budget.  So they invent boogie men, hide the truth from us, claim they cannot tell us because of ‘security’ concerns and generally play loose with the truth. 

    Number of terrorists thwarted by TSA?  Zero
    Number of terrorists caught by TSA?  Zero
    Constitutional rights trampled?  Millions.

    The terrorists know how to penetrate security.  Its not that difficult. They have not done so because they have been degraded by years of war.  They tried what they could and were unsuccessful – not because of TSA but in spite of them.  

    TSA trots out when it catches guns and knives and pies as a badge of honor, but, never seems to prosecute anyone for attempted air piracy.  Thus, every single time they have caught a gun or a knife or a pie it was completely innocent, at least when it comes to the person wanting to hijack or damage an airliner. 

    For all of you folks out there who believe it is a ‘necessary evil,’ or not even that evil, just ask yourself every time you read about their ‘successes,’ what have they done?  The seem to have an uncanny knack of keeping aviation safe from gun-toting rednecks and fools who forget about their weapons, while always being utterly reactive to what does happen. 

    Bomb-making chemicals in liquids?  They knew about the threat since their founding in 2002.  Why did they choose to ban liquids in 2006?  It was a press report of an arrest of guys in Britain trying to do it.  Not the threat itself.

    Taking your shoes off?  Thank Richard Reid.  TSA knew about explosives being cast in any number guises from its inception.  What causes the shoe ‘reaction?’  Why, a shoe event.

    Being naked scanned for bombs?  What caused that?  TSA just realized in 2009 that people could conceal bombs on their persons.  Oh, wait, there was  the underwear bomber.  Hmmm.  Reactive?  Proof is in the pudding. 

  • ButMadNNW

    “A new article every week”

    Your issue is with the fact that he’s reporting this every week?

    NOT that something is happening every week (or more) that’s worth reporting?

    I for one like that Chris keeps bringing this up and keeping it on the radar. It’s not going to go away if we stick our fingers in our ears, close our eyes, and hum loudly. 

  • slacktide

    Another area where power has run a muck!
    How disrespectful, this is not Nazi Germany! Get in line, take your clothes off, turn around, bend down. What country do we live in, where we have guaranteed rights, per the constitution. 

  • Susan N

    But without actually doing anything about it, it’s not going to go away either. I’m not saying get rid of these articles, just make them more constructive rather than just a list of anecdotes.
    If you are doing anything productive about this instead of only repeating it, please let me know.

  • Friedfish


  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    The TSA is accountable to no one.  The TSA arrogantly refuses to appear for Congressional hearings on its misdeeds.  The TSA attempts to get every one of the dozens of lawsuits against it dismissed by claiming that its practices are state secrets and refusing to reveal its screening protocol even to the judges responsible for forcing TSA to follow the law. 

    The TSA blatantly disregards its legal obligation to hold public notice and comment periods on its whole body imaging and enhanced patdown programs.  The TSA was ordered by a Court of Appeals months ago to hold a public notice and comment period for whole body imaging, but it continues to stonewall and has not announced any plans to comply with the court order.

    It’s clear that the TSA isn’t just failing to make us safe, it isn’t just an agency that turns thieves and child porn enthusiasts loose on our belongings and our children, it isn’t just an expensive and worthless boondoggle.  The TSA is actively attempting to thwart all forms of oversight: Congressional, public opinion, courts, all of it.  There’s a simple answer to your question of who does the TSA think it is.  The TSA thinks it is above the law.  The TSA thinks it is beyond the reach of our Constitutional form of government to reign it in.  The TSA thinks that if the TSA does it, it isn’t illegal. 

    If we fail to bring this criminal syndicate down from its arrogantly lawless posture, then we must no longer regard ourselves a free people.

  • Akbeda

    We have a choice of scanners??????  Really?????!!!!!  In Denver just a week ago we were forced through the full body scanner without a choice.  What’s up with that?

  • LeeAnneClark

    We’ve never been invaded by aliens…but hey, it could happen! Let’s spend 8 BILLION dollars of our tax money to make sure we never get invaded by aliens!

    We’ve never had a public building get attacked by crazed elderly grandmothers on meth, shooting dart guns filled with anthrax. But hey, it could happen! Let’s spend 8 BILLION dollars a year to set up anthrax-detection scanners at every entrance to every public building, and do a body-cavity check all the crazy-looking grandmothers. But…oh my gosh…we don’t want to be accused of targeting elderly grandmothers, so let’s just do body-cavity checks on EVERYONE at the entrance to every public building. Because garsh, it COULD happen…even though it never HAS happened. But it could!

    Both of those scenarios make just as much sense as the TSA searching for airplane-obsessed terrorists.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Right, I SO want to hear that people are killed by terrorists. That would fill me with such joy.

    What a sick comment.

    The funniest part about it is that terrorism screening at airports IS useless, because guess what? If a terrorist really wanted to attack something in the US…they’d do it somewhere else!

    The reality is that we have ACTUAL intelligence agencies working to curtail terrorism in this nation, using actual INTELLIGENCE (something sorely lacking in the Walmart-rejects hired by the TSA). We don’t need flunkies groping our genitals to stop terrorism. We need actual experts and professionals stopping terrorists before they get beyond the planning stage.

    And that’s already happening.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    Lisa did a brave thing, standing up for her beliefs. I was disappointed in the way NPR handled that controversy.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Correct, and thanks for pointing that out. The fact is, some people are just the “activist” type – we see a wrong, especially one that impacts us directly, and we speak up, take action, seek to right the wrongs in our lives. People who do that generally fight way more than one battle – and often fight battles that don’t even impact them directly.

    Then you have the ostrich types who a) can’t be bothered doing anything to right the wrongs that happen to them, and b) don’t give a hoot what happens to anyone else.

    Thank God that there are enough of the first type, or nobody would EVER do anything to right the wrongs in society, fight for the oppressed, or stick up for the rights of the people. Those of us willing to put ourselves out there are, sadly, well aware that we are in the minority. But we do it because we have a conscience, and we believe in trying to make the world a better place.

  • LeeAnneClark

    You are wrong, and clearly are uneducated on this issue. TSA frequently refuses to answer questions about checkpoint procedures, because it’s “SSI”: “sensitive security information”. It’s one of their most common refrains. Ask any TSA agent anything about the screening process, they’ll tell you it’s SSI. They refuse to tell us what’s expected of us at the check point, because it’s SSI. They refuse to tell us why one airport demands that laptops be placed in a bin completely alone, while others allow you to place things on top of them – SSI. They refuse to tell us whether or not they are going to run their hands through our hair – SSI. They refuse to answer questions about getting medically-necessary liquids past the checkpoint – SSI.

    Do your homework before you accuse anyone of paranoia.

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Change doesn’t happen without awareness.  “Doing anything about it” can take many forms.  Here are some:

    Several people have already mentioned writing to our Congressional reps.  Waste of time?  Probably, because they’re a pack of cowards, but I’ve still done it because I want it on record that I object to the violation of our rights.

    Economic boycott.  Stop flying.  As I’ve written here umpteen times, if everyone who can do it — meaning the millions of us who aren’t forced to fly for work — would do it, we’d bring the airlines to their knees.  Four to six months max.  Then things would change.  The civil rights movement wouldn’t have succeeded by marching and civil disobedience only.  Economic boycotts work.  Money talks.

    Opt out.  Refuse to go quietly.  Be vocal about your objection to being searched without probable cause or groped.  Amy Alkon has written about this many times.

    Photograph/videotape TSA encounters.  It’s still legal (for now), despite the bullying attempts by TSA clerks to tell you it’s not.

    Write letters to the editor, talk about it with other people, don’t bury the issue.  What’s at stake is a lot bigger than the sham security at the airport.  The principle alone shouldn’t need explaining, but even for those who don’t give a toss about principle, they should at least recognize that these searches aren’t staying only at airports.  They are, predictably, migrating, as the thousands of VIPR operations — not to mention pat-downs at football stadiums — already prove.

    This isn’t going to be an easy fight. It’s going to take years.  And certainly nothing will be accomplished if we just stop talking about it.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Who says we’re not doing anything about it? Rather presumptuous of you. Many of us are actively fighting TSA abuse, in whatever means are available to us. SOMEBODY has to.

    Yes, we are doing productive things. We are writing to Congress. We are submitting columns to our local newspapers. We are writing letters to the editors of newspapers and magazines. We are standing up for our rights at checkpoints. We are working to educate the public about our rights through a variety of mediums. Some are filing lawsuits against the TSA. Others are working directly with lawmakers to craft new legislation.

    You think all we do is read and comment on Christopher’s blog? Think again.

    We appreciate all of the attention Christopher brings to bear on the TSA and their abuses. His way of taking action is by keeping it in the public eye, publicizing new examples of abuse, and ensuring that it’s kept on the radar of his readers. BRAVO!

  • LeeAnneClark

    Classic TSA abuse. You do NOT have to go through the scanner. You are legally entitled to opt out. DON’T LET THEM FORCE YOU. Stand up for your rights.

    You will be treated to a punitive grope-down, but at least you won’t be irradiated.

  • FreeCitizen

    I hope you’re not on Medicare or Medicaid, as I’d hate like hell to have to pay for the chemo and radiation treatments you’ll need for your cancer(s). The scanners are NOT safe, and they are NOT manned by trained medical personnel, and they are NOT certified as being “safe for use” by the FDA, Johns Hopkins, or NIH–in fact, you’re running through them on the TSA’s “promise” that they’re safe. All “voluntary” radiation is bad for you, and directed radiation (x-rays, backscatters, mmwave) are VERY bad for you.

  • Karen C.

    Please note that back before 9-11 happened if the higher ups had listened to those out in the field saying “hey, there are people here learning how to fly planes but not to land them” or revoked people’s visas or checked out any of the many, many clues that came their way before it happened, it never could have happened. The whole TSA thing is shutting the barn door once the cows got out — they truly are not preventing anything.

  • MichelleLV

    I wouldn’t worry to much about chemo and radiation costs as I would the long term care for smokers, and alcoholics. I would never agree to the scanner but just FYI, every time you fly you are exposed to extra radiation that equals that of a chest x-ray.  

  • Sadie Cee

    Some time ago, I suggested that when PAX waiting to be “processed” observe another person being mistreated by TSA that we all should start chanting “SHAME” or something similar.  I suppose this idea is too radical for most people, but I will not abandon the idea of the possible effectiveness of immediate and collective reaction.  Perhaps coughing or hissing would be more palatable.  Do you see everyone being denied boarding or being arrested in these circumstances? :-)
    In 2009 at the Detroit airport one of my relatives, an 80-year-old gentleman as he had done for more than 50 years, made the mistake of using a safety pin to anchor his money belt to the inside of his trousers at the waist.  He was moved to one side and ordered by a TSA to strip down to his underwear (in this case a protective undergarment) in full view of most of the people in the line.  The rest of the family quickly moved in and were not prevented from forming a semi-circle around him.  However, it was not a private area and some people could see what was going on.  He was patted down and his belt and money belt were taken away.  He was left standing with his trousers around his ankles.  I instructed one of my sons who is 6′-5″ tall to keep his eyes focused on the whereabouts of said money belt.  The TSA returned with it and the belt in about five minutes, helped my relative to retrieve his trousers from the floor and told him to go to the restroom opposite to where this all took place to “put himself together.”  He was shaken and had to be supported physically by another of my sons. 
    The search may have been legitimate, but conducting it in that  public venue was unpardonable.  Younger people should note that many older people have had modesty ingrained in them from birth and for them inteference with their bodily integrity and public displays of their nude or semi-nude bodies are traumatic.    

    As for my relative, it took him a long time for him to get over the shame of it all.  He now uses Velcro to secure his money belt and has had not any problems at the five airports that he has passed through since that time.  We pray every time we travel that we will never see anything like this again.  Uncontrollable coughing?  That’s something to think about. 

  • Sadie Cee

    Do you think that the same zeal being applied to the aviation industry is being exercised to protect our sources of potable water?  What is the probability of the same terrorist methods being used again?  Do we not have more to fear from bioterrorism?  Do you believe that the agents of such bioterrorism are already in place?  Am not being alarmist.  Just asking.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LOCND3JAJL4PGYWJBHUT3HWAZM web/gadget guru

    Unfortunately, it’s illegal to profile…
    That’s the biggest problem…While it may be obvious that a 72 year old grandmother with a medical alert bracelet is most likely *NOT* a terrorist, the fact is that because profiling is *NOT* allowed, if the person behind this woman was wearing clothing indicative of a middle-eastern decent and had an accent and a strange name *DID* get treated differently, this second person would have s lawyer out shouting racial profiling faster than your head could spin!
    Sad really…

  • Aaron

    I think part of the problem is the way we treat TSA staffers, and what I read in the comments below re-enforces that belief.

    The TSA is a misguided operation that violates our Constitutional rights, harms the travel and tourism industries, and would be unable to detect a determined, well-planned attack.

    But the poor schlubs in the blue uniforms didn’t make those policies, and I don’t treat them like they did.

    I never walk through the Nude-O-Scopes. I always politely ask to opt out. And I have never had a problem. I get my private parts groped in view of the traveling public, which is my intention.

    Invariably, I find that the TSA agents are courteous and smiling. Always. Maybe that’s because *I* am courteous and smiling.

    Did you ever think that when you think of the TSA agents as unskilled gorillas, and treat them as such, you become part of the problem? Did it ever occur to you that when start out being defensive and rude, you give credence to the TSA’s notion that those who object to their policies are just a few raving nut-cases? That you play right into their PR machine?

    Think like Ghandi. Do not submit to their machine. Gum up the works by opting out, then tell the world that what TSA did to you would constitute sexual assault if it happened out in the real world, but that it’s the only alternative to avoiding the potential danger of the scanners.

    But for God’s sake, set an example of how everyone, TSA and passengers, should behave.


  • Joe Farrell

    3 150KT nuclear weapons detonated 100 miles over Maryland, Kansas and Nevada put the US back into the stone age – cars, trains, planes, buses, trucks and pretty much anything with a microprocessor stops working.  Would destroy our economy and kill prob a 1/3 of our citizens within 18 months.   

    Yet – is anyone worried about that?  Three old tramp freighters that can erect a missile launcher, one off SFO, one off DCA and in the Gulf – 20 min later we are nation without power, water, sewers or the means to move food around any longer.  TSA is now and always will be a joke.

    Water supplies are threatened.

    Food supplies are threatened. 

    A good flu bug would kill millions.

    If you have access to insecticides you simply concentrate them and they become nerve gases. 

    Yet how much do you ever hear about a defense against any of this?  Keep the pedal to the metal and keep the war ‘over there.’

  • LeeAnneClark

    Sorry, but I cannot and will not hold the slightest modicum of respect for any person who willingly chooses a job that requires them to forcibly touch the genitals of innocent travelers.

    That being said, your comment is essentially blaming the victim. It doesn’t (and shouldn’t) matter what we think of them – they do not have a right to assault, molest or abuse innocent passengers. Period, end of story.

    I have flown numerous times since the TSA was formed, and due to metal parts in my spine I must be groped EVERY SINGLE TIME I FLY. The majority of my grope-downs have been unpleasant but uneventful, but two of them were downright abusive. These abuses were NOT caused by anything I said or did. I make a point of avoiding interaction with the smurfs as much as possible, but that does not mean I am openly rude or disdainful with them – I simply do what is required of me and hope to be on my way without too much trauma.

    But when I had to fly shortly after major back surgery, and I specifically asked the TSA screener NOT to press on the area of my surgical wound, and then she DID press down so hard on it that I cried out in pain – how is that my fault?

    The last time I flew, the TSA screener literally karate-chopped my crotch, with her thumb pointed up and into my vaginal area through my thin leggings, to the point where I jumped in shock. How is that my fault?

    Our opinions about the losers who take those offensive jobs do not give them the right to abuse our bodies.

  • Joe Reynolds

    Well I couldn’t click on the TSA is doing a good job, because they are not. I think that most of the employees are doing their best, but I suppose there are some nuts that use it to give themselves a feeling of importance and power. I think some of the TSA employees are out of control, but most are goind what they are suppose to.
    It is not a good system. Suspicious people should be checked close, but those with several months history of holding the ticket are probably ok.
    Remember there was a time when people with a suicide wish would purchase flight insurance and then blow up the plane so the family could collect the insurance.

  • NPR

    Riiight.  Volunteering doesn’t really count now does it?

  • Brooklyn

    Stick to consumer stories Chris.  You and the other two dozen people in the country really don’t care enough to get up off the couch on this one.

  • Chrissy

    “And certainly nothing will be accomplished if we just stop talking about it..”

    Actually, if you take the last half of that phrase away you’ve hit it spot on.

  • Brooklyn

    Interesting, on the entire web there are a total of three hits for “secret security information”.  I’d say that says everything.

    “You are wrong, and clearly are uneducated on this issue…”  And name calling.  Clearly you have better informational and debating skills than I.  I bow to your superiority.

  • JennieW

    Unfortunately this will all be forgotten in six months and her career will have been permanently destroyed as a journalist.  No one is ever going to take on that liability.

  • MarkieA

    By all means, we don’t want to OFFEND anyone. The heck with common sense, let’s make sure that we pull over the quota-filling number of 86-year-olds, and 7-year-olds. Sheesh! I’m going to burn in PC Hell, I guess, but intelligent profiling in terrorist situations seems to work well for those who do it.  Key word being INTELLIGENT. I’m not sure TSA can fill than qualification.

  • cjr001

    42 people so far have shown all that is wrong with America today.

  • cjr001

     If an agency like the TSA was my first point of contact in another country, then hell yes I would avoid that country and choose to go somewhere else.

    TSA flat out disregards the rights of AMERICAN citizens. How is a foreigner supposed to think of how they may be treated!? Certainly not better.

  • cjr001

     Really? You get what you pay for?

    We’re putting BILLIONS into TSA, and this is what we get?

    Then we’re far, far better off without altogether.

    Propaganda 101 from David.

  • cjr001

     Profit is ALREADY the primary concern of the TSA.

    Why else do we have these worthless pornoscanners which were pushed by lobbyists, including those who used to work in the Bush Administration?

  • MarkieA

    My personal concern about the tactics being employed by the TSA is that they COULD be – trying not to be paranoid here – just the first couple of steps to greater Government intrusion into my personal life. Now it’s enhanced pat-downs at the airport, next is background checks of all travelers, next is background checks of everyone, then it’s National ID cards, then it’s DNA testing and identification, then your insurance company uses the DNA testing against you to raise your rates because you have a predisposition to cancer, then it’s Geolocation of everyone. etc. etc etc. I’ve accelerated the scenarios, and, of course, it could go quite differently. My point is that once you start giving up your basic human rights – and let’s not kid ourselves here, what the TSA is doing at airports IN THE NAME OF SECURITY, is a clear violation of the the 4th Amendment – it becomes harder and harder to get them back. If the erosion of these rights continues, we will, I guarantee you, get to a point to where even you wake up one day and think, “How did we get here?” We got there one tiny baby step at a time. You want to read something really scary? Read the actual Patriot Act. Read the power that it gives the Government. This abhorrent piece of legislation could very easily be the launching pad for a great many personal abuses.

  • Susan N

    Honestly, I’m with you on this, that they should profile people. However, this country also seems to be obsessed with ‘political correctness’, so discrimination or profiling of any sort will automatically be seen as wrong.
    You just can’t have it both ways.

  • cjr001

    TSA is, on a daily basis, violating the Constitutional rights of Americans.

    And this isn’t something we should worry about!? WTF, America!?

  • cjr001

     TSA has already been recorded telling people to go back and put more clothes on or they won’t be allowed through security.

    Makes a helluva lot of sense, doesn’t it? Makes me think that they just enjoy getting (intimately) physical with people.

  • MarkieA

    Could it be that there’s a new article about the abuses of TSA every week because TSA continually finds new ways to abuse? You’ve expressed the perfect head-in-the-sand reaction. Let’s not talk about Government (or pick your authority figure) abuse; it’s tiring; it’s boring. If we don’t talk about it; it’ll surely go away.

  • cjr001

     If I were in Elliott’s shoes, I’d never stop writing about TSA after they tried to threaten him into submission.

  • cjr001

    Nearly 1100 votes says quit trolling because you’re not very good at it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    Yes, Brooklyn, you are wrong and you are clearly uneducated on this issue.  SSI stands for Sensitive Security Information, and there are 8 million+ hits on google for it.  See:



    Sixteen categories of information are designated SSI, including “9 (i) Procedures, incl. comments, guidance, selection criteria, for screening persons …”

    Here’s an example of TSA claiming its search procedures are SSI and can’t be revealed, in their defense against a 4th amendment lawsuit:

  • Tom Brollini

    I’d like to know just who the 42 idiots are that voted that the American “Nazi SS” TSA is doing a good job & what planet they are living on??

    Fight back, fight them at every turn!  Contact your reps, blast the White House, whatever, just do something.

    Remember what Ben Franklin said: “Those that give up liberty for security, will soon have neither”!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    I disagree.  I don’t think it matters whether TSA employees are educated people.  The TSA’s procedures are disgusting, indecent, and prima facie sexually abusive.

    Being sexually assaulted by a government bully doesn’t become okay because the woman putting her hands down my pants has a college degree.  That man in the little room is getting paid to look at a teenage girl’s naked body, so who cares if he makes $12 or $100 an hour?  What matters is that anyone who accepts a job with this molestation crew is a moral zero, a person who takes cash to force unwilling participants into sexual acts.  End of story.  Genital rubbing + unwilling victim = sexual assault.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  – Margaret Mead

  • Blip66

    Got to agree with Jctoo. I have to connect often via Amsterdam because of the Delta tie up and Amsterdam is pretty bad. They are consistently rude as hell. I have seen them berate young, old, and everything in between for absolutely trivial reasons. And although they have had an elaborate personal interview system for every US bound passenger for many years it was obviously utterly useless at identifying the underwear bomber; which is the proximate reason for this entire scanning discussion. Oh and I pressed like by mistake instead of reply.

  • James_2

    “Ignorant citizens elect ignorant leaders, it’s as simple as that.
    And term limits don’t help. All you do is get a new bunch of ignorant
    leaders.” – George Carlin

  • Cjr

    Nearly 1100 votes says quit trolling because you’re not very good at it.

  • cjr

    Nearly 1100 votes says quit trolling because you’re not very good at it.

  • sa

    “I’m willing to bet that a 72-year-old retiree wearing a medical bracelet is not going to blow up a plane.”

    Sorry, I’m not willing to take that bet.  

  • Susan N

    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t talk about it, just that we should talk about it in more productive ways than just more sob stories

  • Daisymae

    When exactly did that happen?

  • Blip66

    Ah yes it’s so terrible that we don’t officially sanction xenophobia isn’t it. Let me guess, you are all gung ho about profiling because you assume you won’t fall within a profile. “web/ gadget guru”  is a mighty odd name I tell you. ‘dem furriners use funny words like guru1

  • Daisymae

    When government bureaucrats and their connected cronies figure out a way to make millions out of “protecting” our water sources, then then a plot to our water supply will be uncovered.

  • Daisymae

    The time to stop talking about the sob stories is when the sob stories stop happening.

  • Daisymae

    Name calling? What names? She didn’t call any names.

    If she called you “stupid” or “idiot” or “ignoramus” or “fathead” then that’s a name. She didn’t call you any name.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Do you have a suggestion for a more “productive” way to talk about it? Are YOU doing anything? Or just criticizing those who ARE doing something for not being “productive” enough?

  • Daisymae

    Retaining the right to decide who can touch our genitals or view us naked is the most basic and fundamental of all human rights and therefore has a much bigger impact on people than any other issue. It certainly does affect the entire country and indeed the entire world since the US is forcing this violation of human rights on other countries.

  • Susan N

    No, which is why I am asking here. I was hoping that Chris’ articles and the comments here would help, considering that he/you seem to see it as one of your big goals.

  • Daisymae

    Was Lisa denied employment as a result of taking a stand against TSA?m

  • Carver

    I did a little checking. I wondered why the first two pages of google hits were primarily advocacy sites rather than more traditional news outlets.

     It seems that the real gist of the article is that the Rutherford lawyer screwed up and didn’t want to admit it.  Any SSI issue is beyond the jurisdiction of the District Courts and must go directly to the Court of Appeals.  Normally you would choose the court that is geographically correct.  However, in certain cases, e.g. patent prosecution, tax appeals, the DC Court of Appeals is given exclusive original jurisdiction because it makes sense to concentrate unique issues into a single court since most courts would have little experience in these areas.

    A hard news outlet would have the resources to check out the story better, while an advocacy site probably wouldn’t.

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    Ha, ha, ignorance must indeed be bliss!

  • http://tsanewsblog.com/214/news/history-repeats-itself-with-tsas-strip-search-tactics/ Lisa Simeone

    It’s already been forgotten.  Predictably, it fizzled and died.  I still have several freelance gigs, none of which involve reporting the news or covering politics.  I never claimed to do either (unlike other folks at the networks who do claim that yet continue to engage in partisan actions with no problem).

  • Peggy Hain

    Why are you hiding behind (using) npr logo?  You obviously don’t have the brains to listen to npr programs.  I think you must be in sixth grade.  No, more like fourth grade.  

  • LeeAnneClark

    Are you having vision problems? Numerous comments on this article have detailed some very specific productive ways of fighting TSA abuse. Try reading one right above this. It gives suggestions for writing Congress, letters to the editor, local news stories, etc. etc.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I was wondering that same thing. Names? What names? If someone is going to accuse me of something, it would be nice if he could actually point to where I did it.

  • Anna

    The TSA is usually not the “first point of contact” for non-US citizens arriving in the US – that would be CBP (“immigration”) and the whole shebang with fingerprints, interrogations, etc. I don’t know if Andrea confused the two agencies, but I personally find CBP to be far nastier than the TSA.

  • Lemmie

    You can call me a troll, but if they aren’t coming here simply because of the TSA then they should be examined because they are mentally ill.

  • Lemmie

    Because they disagree with you.  Nice.

  • cjr

    What you people don’t seem to get is that it isn’t going to change.  Congress and the government will violate your rights from here to eternity as long as they can say they prevented or are preventing danger.  The fact that less than one percent of America will ever get off their diabetic a$$es to speak up just reinforces their points.  The topic is stale and pointless.  Most of America watches the videos of people getting “assaulted” like they would a reality show – it’s entertainment.  Nothing more.  Stupid people have gone to jail and pissed away careers over this and it’s just pointless.  You might as well go piss in the Sahara to solve the water problem.

  • NPR

    Ahh you got me.  That is the ultimate shutdown.  Much like Lisa’s journalism career.

  • Bill

    Its a sick comment because its true :(

  • Bill

    Well, you would also think that government employees and those in power don’t have to be intelligent either, since intelligence isn’t a prerequisite for politics or running a country?

    (Then again, America isn’t exactly known for intelligent politicians…)

  • Susan N

    But those things you mentioned don’t work, as time has shown.

  • Guest

    Umm…they’re “mentally ill” simply because they read enough about TSA to be put off them and, thus, be put off from visiting the U.S.? Interesting conclusion, though I wonder what (preferably) medical or factual basis does that come from without especially and thoroughly examining “them”.

    I mean, if you yourself conclude “they” are “mentally ill” and should be examined without necessarily knowing more about “them”, then surely you can likewise understand why “they” would reach such a conclusion after reading and hearing what they have about TSA and the U.S.?

    Of course, one can conclude whatever they want. If you want a so-called desired result to occur, though, then surely it helps to hear them out and adjust according to that?

    Some foods for thought, perhaps. (and I’m mentally fine, thank you very much, even if you conclude otherwise…)

  • LeeAnneClark

    Oh? You can read my mind? And in your magical reading of my mind you are able to see that I actually WANT PEOPLE TO DIE in a terrorist attack?

    Who’s the sick one, Bill?

  • Pauletteb

    Of course you get almost daily complaints about TSA: The entire world knows how anti-TSA you are and that you’ll lend a sympathetic ear to even the most ridiculous complainer. Maybe I’m just lucky or, more likely, I know the rules, follow them, and treat security folk with respect — not because I fear being blacklisted but because it makes everyone’s life easier. From what I’ve read in your columns and others, some of these travelers deserve to be blacklisted for their general behavior. It is what it is; get with the program or don’t fly!

  • Pauletteb

    Why is it that anyone who disagrees with you is a troll?

  • Pauletteb

    Again, why is anyone who disagrees with the anti-TSA tirades a troll? That’s the typical small-minded approach to people who know what they know and don’t want to be confused with facts. I don’t think TSA is doing a great job in general, but it’s ridiculous to demonize an entire group over the actions of a few. THOUSANDS of people travel through US airports a day and don’t have a complaint. If anyone’s a troll it’s the anti-TSA folk whose monikers show up again and again in these columns.

  • Pauletteb

    What an idiotic analogy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    Wow, Pauletteb.  I suppose you also would have told Rosa Parks to follow the rules of the bus company.  Rosa, get with the program and treat those racists with respect! 

    Those of us agitating against the TSA’s procedures are acting on behalf of a principle.  It’s shocking that anyone could disagree with the principle: an innocent person should not have to reveal his or her naked body to government agents, nor should an innocent person have to engage in sexual conduct with government agents.  I mean, opinions may differ as to whether to describe hand-to-genital rubbing through clothes as second or third base, but it’s certainly something teenagers do for sexual enjoyment and certainly not something many of us do casually with strangers. 

    I will not treat a sexual abuser with respect, and anyone who works for TSA takes money to sexually abuse innocent men, women, and children.  Respect is earned, and the behavior TSA employees exhibit does not merit respect, period.

    As for making everyone’s life easier, I imagine it would make my life much easier to just stop caring about the innocent children who have their first sexual experiences at the hands of scary strangers at the airport.  I imagine my life would be much easier if I stopped worrying about how forced sexual contact feels for the 25% of women who have survived sexual assault.  But as all progress depends on unreasonable people, I will continue to fight.  Luckily, I believe our world becomes ever more just over time, as more people fight for fair treatment, and I know in the long run we will win.  People will not stand for being pointlessly molested.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    The TSA has announced that all new scanner acquisitions will include the naked-image gingerbread man filter.  That could be seen as progress, and I doubt it would have happened without public pressure.  It’s not enough, since the patdowns are still sexually abusive and some airports are still taking naked pictures, but it’s not nothing.

  • MarkieA

    And you know what? This may be the basic difference between us; I am willing to take that chance. If it means that we don’t take that next little baby step towards the Police State, I am willing to take the chance that I may get blown out of the sky by the bomb being carried in the Depends underpants of the the incontinent 86-year old. As so many folks in this forum have pointed out, the chances of this happening are so slim, that the ever-accelerating progress we’re making towards Big Brother is unwarranted at best.

  • http://www.pipdigital.com Nancy Dickinson

    Wow, do you need a nap, Paulette?  You seem to have a problem with name-calling and when MY kids do that, they get a time-out.

  • cjr001

    I’ve never had a problem with CBP. I’ve had problems with TSA.

    CPB isn’t the one most likely to violate your rights, TSA is.

    While I was wrong to say TSA is the first point of contact, it is the one that people are most often hearing about, and the one to most rightfully be concerned about.

  • Donaldkinge

    It may not be the TSA specifically, but rather the draconian policies that treats visitors as criminals. Being sexually assaulted by TSA agents, being fingerprinted and harassed at the airport is a good reason not to visit the US. I avoid flying whenever possible because of the TSA and I know countless Americans who do too. The TSA is a dangerous organization that needs to be taken down.

  • Donaldkinge

    I’d love to see you travel in a country where they profile Americans and subject them to harassment and discrimination – just to show you how “fair” it really is.

  • Donaldkinge

    You should read the complaints against the TSA by women who have had agents put their fingers inside of them – not sure what they were looking for either.

  • Rcwally_80303

    As much as I think the TSA agency is a waste of time, and at best, should be turned over the military instead of $10 per hour agents, I am just not seeing all the problems people here complain about.  My husband flies about 10 times per year from Madison, WI or Chicago, one daughter flies several times a year, usually out of the country with small children, another daughter flies back and forth between Cape Canaveral and the Bahamas several times a year.  We live in the Denver area and fly out of DIA.  We just returned last week from Kauai.  Getting out of Kauai took a bit a effort because of the agriculture issues but honestly?  Everyone in TSA, from DIA to Kauai were wonderful.  At DIA I lost my toothpaste because it was too big, but the agent called me over to advise of that and asked me if I wanted to check it in.  I declined.  Our entire family makes a serious effort to be as friendly and attentive as we can be to the agents, and we have not had a single problem in almost 8 years.  In the first couple of years after 9/11 some agents were over zealous (trying to separate me from my children when they were being looked at more closely) but the last few years have been great.  We even flew back from Paris in September 2010 on the day there was a bomb scare in the airport and they locked everyone out of the buildings for almost an hour.  Personally, I believe a big part of it is attitude.  If you think about these people trying to save you from blowing up while you are flying, and just take a step back and treat them the way you want to be treated I think most of the issues would be resolved.  Granted, I am sure there are over zealous agents, just like there can be over zealous police officers.  I have more issues with the way we are treated once we are on the airplane then anything I have observed before we get on it.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_N3ZAUPJC44NBAU64ZEUWWKKJPQ J

    What are the right people the 4% respondents are alluding too?  Sure as heck it isn’t the flying public. One thing that definitely needs doing is REMOVE the uniforms from ALL TSA emplyees. Their uniforms are designed to give the impression that TSA is either a) a police agency, or b) a quasi-military agency; which neither is true. Handing a person a uniform AND A BADGE, it tantamount to giving free license to the wearer to consider them to be such and it then follows that they will act as such. We all have seen this mindset in play for the past 10 years.  DHS, the parent agency of TSA, was created during a complete climate of FEAR foisted on the American public and is still being played out today.  The ONLY way we will see and realize a re-do is when we have an administration who will ORDER shut down of BOTH agencies and start from scratch to make a better one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sommer.gentry Sommer Gentry

    Rcwally, you say, “If you think about these people trying to save you from blowing up while you are flying,” and I think the difference between you and me is that I don’t believe they are there to save me from blowing up while I am flying.  Not for one second.  The risk of blowing up while I am flying is less than the risk of being killed by lightning.  Also, their searches are known to have a massively high failure rate (fail to find weapons in 70% to 100% of tests), so what they’re doing doesn’t even reduce the risk of blowing up while flying.  There is not a single rational argument for their presence in terms of making people safer. 

    I’ve actually scratched my head, thought it through, and I’m still drawing a blank as to why they are actually there.  Maybe it’s really about the war on drugs and trying to exploit the “administrative search” exception that courts carved out of the Fourth Amendment to try to nab drug users?  Maybe it’s just a massive boondoggle to scam money out of Congress?  Maybe it’s just that people aren’t rational and they become super-manipulable and docile when fear strikes their reptilian brains?  Yeah, it’s probably a combination of all of those and mostly the last one.  Plus fear plays well politically.

    You should really examine the actual risks in your life so that you can respond appropriately: car crash, heart disease, real risks, oh-no-a-terrorist is so rare that the possibility must be entirely discounted in trying to plan how to live your life.  And I don’t plan to live my life being humiliated and bullied by government thugs, so I will never never consider patdowns and body scans as something done to protect me.

  • panhead20

    Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government. Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart.

    Justice Robert Jackson, chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    Seems I struck a nerve Paulette, apparently you’re one of “those people”.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HMW3OTJSBDWWRKIEKEKWWM7BEA bc

    You just said it yourself, “I don’t think TSA is doing a great job in general” yet we’re trolls for saying the same thing and calling them out on being part of an ineffectual system that has spent millions of taxpayer dollars without improving security one iota. The true trolls are the ones who must resort to petty name calling and strawman arguments to make their point. You’re the troll, and I feel dirty for having fed you.

    Apparently you’re having a moment of cognitive dissonance.

  • Drontil

    Hi, Ron.  Too afraid to post using your “real” name?

  • spilclif

    they dont apologize  either if they are wrong if the machine says you have something on you and you dont and you miss your flight tough s–t  plus they seem to have the right to be rude crude and tell you off!