TSA Watch: These terrorists don’t need to be screened — they have uniforms

Today’s word is “inconsistent.”

Say it with me: inconsistent.

If the last week’s events have shown us anything, it’s that the federal agency guarding America’s skies is inconsistent.

Dangerously inconsistent, sometimes.

Consider the outrage over rapper Freddie Gibbs, who slipped a bag of marijuana in his checked luggage on a flight last week. But when the TSA found his stash at the airport, it didn’t report him. Instead, it let him off with a lighthearted warning when an agent allegedly wrote, “C’mon son” on the official “you’ve been inspected” card.

How do we know this? Because Gibbs posted the evidence online.

TSA has reluctantly agreed to investigate the matter, but only after being contacted by a blogger.

Interestingly, another TSA representative, in a separate case, claimed the agency doesn’t care about drugs in the suitcases it inspects at the airport.

Oddly, we got word that more than a dozen TSA screeners in Charlotte could lose their jobs after an internal investigation showed they didn’t properly screen luggage. Over a one-week period in June, 80 of 80,000 bags were “not screened according to security protocol,” according to the TSA.

Of course, the apparent lapse led to no terrorist incidents. Not even a single rapper tweeting about his grass.

So let me get this straight: Drugs are OK, but letting a few unchecked bags with nothing dangerous on board — not OK?

C’mon, TSA.

But while those inconsistencies are laughable, this one isn’t: The Senate just voted to give members of the armed services and their families a special expedited TSA line. It suggests soldiers should experience a less thorough screening when they are flying. This, in itself, is troubling because there is no evidence that being in the military makes you less likely to commit an act of terrorism. As a former TSA officer observed on the TSA News Blog, being in the military may actually increase the likelihood you’re a terrorist.

You might not realize this, but the TSA has quietly been giving itself and its friends these special privileges all along. I received a copy of the TSA’s in-house newsletter, the originally named “TSA Today” with a little blurb about a new “flying employee’s lane” that opened earlier this year in Nashville. It allows non-uniformed crew, airport employees flying out and families of airport employees traveling with them to use the lane. (My source believes TSA agents also have access to the special lane.)

“There is a saying that ‘some of the smallest things can make you very happy’,” TSA Today wrote. It noted,

I have noticed in the past month instead of a constant flow of complaints from crew and airline employees; compliments and kudos to the FSD [Federal Security Director].

Whenever I am watching the Employee Lane and interact with the employees, you can see the smiles on their faces and hear words of appreciation.

Alright, so let me see if I understand this: Off-duty baristas, airport parking attendants, the great-niece of screener trainee — they can all use a special lane and are probably waved through the checkpoint, while the rest of us have to stand in a long line, get scanned, patted down, prodded and poked?

Look up “inconsistent” in the dictionary. One of the definitions is “Transportation Security Administration.”


I’ve actually spoken with the agency about its uneven approach to security — why one passengers may get a thorough search and swabbing and another may not. The TSA wants to keep terrorists on their toes by being unpredictable. Consistently screening every passenger, it argues, would give the bad guys a roadmap for their next attack.

Problem is, the agency is inconsistent when it shouldn’t be and consistent when it shouldn’t.

TSA has already said children’s shoes won’t be scanned for explosive devices. It’s also promised not to do any body cavity searches. An enterprising terrorist could recruit children to do Allah’s work and wedge a block of Semtex into an adult passenger’s body cavity to help them along. (And while you’re at it, how much would it cost to procure a fake military ID and uniform, so you could take the shortcut line?)

Now the agency is waiving obviously illegal items like drugs through its checkpoints, an action the majority of American air travelers almost certainly would disapprove of, but it’s firing agents for letting a couple of harmless bags slide.

Inconsistent? That may be putting it politely.

(Photo: Da Nthomas/Flickr)

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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  • johnb78

    Not sure I agree with you on the drugs point. The TSA’s supposed point is to keep travelers safe, not to work as general law enforcement; it clearly doesn’t put anyone else’s safety at risk if the person next to you has a big bag o’weed, a sack of filthy porn, or anything else that’s not technically legal but that can’t down an aircraft.

  • Elmo Clarity

    Ummm….  The “sack of filthy porn” is not illegal in the US.  As long as it was not easily visible to the general public, it is not illegal. 

    While the TSA might not be the group to actually handle the issue of illegal drugs, they should notify law enforcement (TSA is *NOT* a law enforcement agency as much as they would like to think they are) and let them decide what should be done.

  • johnb78

    Not entirely true on the porn front, look up the PROTECT Act.

    Re notifying law enforcement, the TSA is in the same legal and moral position as, say, a nightclub bouncer. If a nightclub bouncer finds a kilo of cocaine on a patron, they’ve a clear duty to call the cops in every sense; if they find half a joint then (pragmatically and morally, even if not in strict legal terms) they don’t.

  • jim6555

    Chris, calling terrorism “Allah’s work” is insulting to the 99% of Muslims who never even thought about being a terrorist and are very much ashamed of what was done in the name of their religion on 9-11-01. I wonder how would you react if another blogger described the 1995 blowing up of the Oklahoma City Federal Building by Timothy McVeigh and others as “Jesus’ work”?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OEPJGQPIEB75YYDE5CJY6R3VFE Carver Clark Farrow II

    “.  As long as it was not easily visible to the general public, it is not illegal”

    It might be.  Depends on what is being portrayed.

  • http://www.eyeonannapolis.net/ John Frenaye

    Maybe if weed was legal and we all smoked, the whole experience of flying might be a bit more tolerable….just a thought!

  • $16635417

    Huh? You have an issue with letting a service man or woman go through the expedited security line?

    First class passengers and elite frequent fliers do already, why not a Marine, Soldier, Sailor or Airman?
    In many airports they already did allow it before this bill.

  • MarkieA

    Because, as far as I know, no one has blown up a building or plane right after exclaiming, “Jesus is Lord!”. However, “Allah hu akbar!” has been heard many times right before the explosion.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    See Major Nidal Malik Hasan for why *I* have a problem with letting anyone have a free pass.

  • http://twitter.com/cassondra_moni Cassondra Monique

    I don’t think the drugs thing is a big deal unless it was a large amount for selling (because let’s face it, drug dealers are the single largest group of terrorists in the US). I also think taking the word of a rapper who would LOVE the PR is really good “reporting”. Anyone could take a bag that has one of those TSA sheets in it, write “C’mon son” on it and take a pic next to drugs (also, shouldn’t the cops be arresting this guy about now since he admits to having the drugs?) As for the inconsistencies in the TSA, I am tired of all of their tactics period. I HATE flying now and try to avoid it. Even just a few years ago it was not as ridiculous as it is now and it gets worse by the day. I want my daughter to experience the world, but not the TSA. Explain to me why when I flew with my medication in my luggage recently, my liquid medication was in one case ignored (I forgot to even declare it when I put it through the machine), in two cases checked for it to be my prescription, and finally in a final case it was opened and “tested” though they never would tell me what they were “testing” for. The fact that my two year old may have to go through a machine that exposes her to any sort of radiation is scary for this mom who doesn’t even let her have non-organic milk or veggies. I don’t mind going through the machine myself as with my medical disorders I’ve already been through a plethora of MRIs, CTs, and x-rays. We need a COMPLETE overall of the system but I doubt it is going to happen until… never. 

  • Raven_Altosk

    The nutjob Muslim Terrorist who shot up Fort Hood was military. That alone should be enough to prevent special treatment for anyone. 

    Also, I think members of Congress deserve a patdown EVERY time they fly. Just so they experience what the rest of us have to deal with on a daily basis.

  • Raven_Altosk

    9/11 Terrorists were First Class PAX.

  • Donna Palen

    While I’m not condoning the drugs, I have to say, it is NOT the job of the TSA to police drug activitiy.  Granted, if were a suitcase filled with nothing but drugs, that’s different and signals that a drug dealer is aboard.  But for small amounts of pot, it is NOT their job to be police. They aren’t even supposed to ask you how much cash you are traveling with, that’s the Custom’s department’s job, not the TSA. And I do dislike the TSA that I read about…but have not experienced anything bad myself….yet, lol.

  • $16635417

    Your point?

    Aren’t we talking about a shorter line, but the same screening?

  • $16635417

    When was he screened by TSA?

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I’m sorry if my post was too short to convey my thinking here.  “Expedited” lines can only occur if either more resources are allocated to provide a separate, thoroughly screened line or if the same resources in place now are used to provide 2 separate sets of screening.  If the latter, then in order to expedite, the screening must perforce be less thorough.  Chris has pointed out what less thorough means in the body of his post.

    I didn’t say Major Nutjob (thank you, Raven!) had gone through TSA screening.  I pointed him out as a demonstrated threat to our nation’s security.  The sad fact is that not all of our service men and women are 100% dedicated to serving our country, and that a very few are committed to causing injury/mayhem/murder.  If an expedited line means less thorough screening, that becomes a means of exploitation by the unscrupulous, whether they wear our nation’s flag on their uniform or not.

    (Sorry for typos – Disqus isn’t showing me the screen where I’m typing.)

  • cjr001

    The thing is – and this goes back to consistency – TSA has tried to act as law enforcement in the past by busting people with drugs.

    Now, granted, even I don’t blame TSA for calling police over the one guy who had like 15 bags of coke in him or whatever it was. But they’ve been known to bust people with weed, too.

    But then, they’ve also been known to frequently miss even the most basic of prohibited items.

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

    Given the latest tactic by the terrorists is to turn military members over to their side, I don’t know letting them go right through is such a great idea.

    I’m a military vet, wife and mother and even *I* think military members should go through security.  Did the government learn nothing from the Fort Hood shooting?

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

    Wish I could put more “Likes” on this one, Raven.  Well said.

  • Gennadiy Treyger


  • Gennadiy Treyger

    It takes a VERY special kind of douchebag to call our service members “terrorists”.  

  • flip44

    The concentration here seems to be on drugs. The pat down of those loving cuddly babies tugs at the heart strings. They must be assumed innocent.
    In the 60’s I was traveling from Karachi to Frankfort. There was a Pakistani mother on board holding her baby in her arms. An astute stewardess noted on the long trip, the baby never cried or moved. She notified the captain who called ahead. On disembarking she was taken into custody on ‘suspician.’ The dead baby was stuffed with heroin!!
    I have traveled around the world four times as a photographer; been to 80 countries. Have been thru many harrowing experiences.
    Now my biggest hangup is the ‘mental anxiety’ of going thru the TSA security check debacle. We have to realize the TSA agents are human; running the gamut from good to bad. 
    I take the attitude now that my one day trips to see family is just that; a day of inconvenience. I live with it.

  • WilliamTouzani

    TSA’s inconsistency is deliberate in order to hide the agency’s  lack of strategy and incompetency. Their excuse will always be : We already tried it.

  • scapel

    I think there could be some sort of investigative process that would allow certain people to go through lines fast. In other words show a card that says you are ok, but just need to be checked that someone else hasn’t sliipped something else into your luggage.
    Pilots and flight attendents should have a special TSA gate possibly out of view of the regular passengers.
    Military–go just like the rest of us. Remember one of them was a self appointed terriorist. The military don’t mind. If they were investigated they could have a card that allowed a quick check.
    A TSA ID card so to speak for people that don’t mine a background check and answering many personal questions to get the card. The card would not allow you immunity, but just possibly give TSA a notice that this person is probably OK. I think an expensive quick check system was tried but failed, probably because of expense. I think the travelling business people which have such a hard timie might have it easier.

  • scapel

    I think if any person sees anything that is illegal to possess in someone’s possession they should report it to law inforcement.

  • scapel

    Good point

  • scapel

    Also a good point

  • scapel

    Calling MarkieA a bigot or signing the note?

  • scapel

    One could probably miss the whole flight

  • scapel

    I fly first class all the time and I am an elite member and I go through TSA just like anyone else. I have a great deal of respect for our service men and when seen I stop an put my hand over my chest until they pass.

  • scapel

    fliip44- I think that is well said and is coming from one with a great deal of experience. kudos for the stewardess.

  • johnb78

    My last long-haul flight, in Nov, was on British Airways from Bangkok to Sydney. The person in front of me in the line (secondary line at the gate – we’d already been x-rayed) was the captain. I said “It’s lucky they’ve checked your bags, now there’s nothing you can do to damage the plane”. He said “Quite, yes, it’s bloody ridiculous, but what can you do?”. Anyone who thinks that subjecting crew to the same checks as passengers is a good idea is clearly a lunatic.

  • Gennadiy Treyger

    I am not a bigot.  According to Mr. Christopher Elliott, I am a terrorist, since I wear a uniform.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    I don’t recall having called you a terrorist.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EYX4BJYVJ3Z2T4ASAUXJHGLKZA Michelle

    So you are content to be gate raped, humiliated, interrogated, and otherwise treated like a criminal?  No wonder the government gets away with everything.  So many apathetic “Americans” who refuse to stand up for their rights.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EYX4BJYVJ3Z2T4ASAUXJHGLKZA Michelle

    There should be no background check done just to allow Americans to fly.  The bottom line is this – we have the rights to our bodies and our properties.  We have the right to not be sexually molested just to travel.  If people are so afraid of the passenger next to them, then stay home.  Don’t force the rest of us to be raped by some idiot in uniform.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EYX4BJYVJ3Z2T4ASAUXJHGLKZA Michelle

    Anybody who thinks subjecting any of us to the rapedown by some goon in a uniform is clearly a lunatic.

  • $16635417

    In my experience, the expedited line still goes through the same screening process. Why not give the same courtesy to our military as first class and elite frequent flyers?

  • MarkieA

    Bigoted against a group of people – and we can debate whether this group of people are the outcasts of the Muslim religion or not – who’s stated goal is the annihilation of ‘the infidel”, of which I am, apparently, one? Absolutely. Put me down as a bigot.

    And how do you get “bigot” from a simple observation of fact?

  • Gennadiy Treyger

    I’m sorry, what was I thinking when I saw the
    headline:  “TSA Watch: These
    terrorists don’t need to be screened — they have uniforms” and
    a picture of service members in uniform…  My mistake!

  • flip44

    Wow, Disqus, you sure missed the point of my letter response. Where did “rape” come into this? “Humiliation? Interrogated? I am sure I have been in more protests than you have years. You just make assumptions without knowing ANYTHING about me.
    I have been shot at and arrested in foreign countries. I have been in protest marches.
    I can understand your anger, but attacking me is so misplaced. You are rude and insensitive. Your reaction is narrow minded.
    If you go thru a pat down by the TSA, they will surely find “that chip on your shoulder.”
    Demeaning people will achieve nothing. Get off your high horse and do something positive and meaningful.
    Let’s see how “big” you are and apologize to me.


  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    Apology accepted. Next time, please read the story before commenting.

    As a postscript to this, Treyger has earned the distinction of being the first non-spammer to be banned from this site and from my Facebook page, following several additional and altogether pointless exchanges. If you parachute into this site, intentionally misread a post, call out the owner and insult some long-time commenters, that’s what you get. Sorry, Gennadiy.

  • Ann Lamoy

    I have no trouble calling you a bigot because you are painting the actions of a few people that twisted the tenants of their religion to fit an agenda and trying to shoehorn every person in that group into that mold.

    Just like I would call someone a bigot who would call people of Christian faith by names based on the few extreme fundamentalists who seem to want to set women’s rights, gay rights and every other human right other than their extremely narrow and self righteous interpretation of the bible. 99% of Christians are not like this and to call all Christians names based on the actions of a few? Would be just as wrong.

    It isn’t the faith of a person that is bad-it is how they pervert it and use it to fit their horrible agenda that is.

  • y_p_w

    What’s really “general law enforcement”?  In the past, Customs at borders, seaports, and airports were part of the Treasury Dept.  Their raison d’être was to collect duties on behalf of the US Treasury and to take declarations of currency.

    However, as a government agency, they were additionally tasked with inspecting for contraband, which included drugs (DEA and Justice) and some agricultural goods (USDA).  They served as gatekeepers for travel and immigration, which were then considered the responsibilities of the State Dept and the Justice Dept.

    They should be responsible for referring federal law violations to the appropriate agencies.  They are the gatekeepers and should apply a certain level of professionalism.

  • y_p_w

    Chris – you’re certainly right that it’s too easy to impersonate uniformed personnel.

    I’d certainly like to see a certain amount of creative thinking going on to counter the creative thinking of those who wish to cause us harm. Even those legitimately in uniform can be an issue. Not all who wear the uniform of our military do so with the best intentions. Nidal Malik Hasan was trained by the US military and was certified nutcase. I’ve heard of some who joined the military in order to steal military weapons for sale on the black market. A friend of mine who retired from the Army relayed a story of a gang member who joined the military and took back the combat techniques he learned and used them on the street on behalf of his gang.

    Just because someone is wearing a uniform shouldn’t make them beyond reproach. It’s certainly easy enough for someone to (legitimately or not) wear a uniform so as to avoid suspicion.

  • y_p_w

    Anyone remember “Saving Private Ryan”? That depicted an Army Ranger sniper who prayed to his God as he killed? I’m not necessarily equating that with a terrorist act, but I could easily imagine a so-called Christian justifying violence on religious grounds.I don’t know about screaming “God is Great!”, but I don’t doubt Christian terrorists have invoked God in prayer as they carried out their terrorist acts.We’re arguing about window dressing rather than heart of why people carry out certain acts.

  • flip44

    Rape! Rape! Rape! That seems dominate on your mind. Find some other adjective; you have worn this one out.
    Were you abused as a child?  Sorry.

    Cut thru your anger and make more positive constructive comments/arguments.

  • flip44

    Thanks. After being the brunt of Michelle’s anger (above) it is nice to hear some ‘kind’ words.

  • Raven_Altosk

    As long as it’s just a “shorter” line, I’m fine with that. 

    I don’t think anyone should be subject to less screening than someone else b/c of their seat assignment, military dress, relationship to the TSA, or member of government.

  • WilliamTouzani

    As of last year, Islam is the largest religion in the world. You can minimize it but one day you’ll realize that  you’re in the minority in way too many places. Look at Blacks and Hispanics in America today.

  • chevy4wd

    Chris, any upcoming TSA Watch articles coming up on the petition put on the White House website to abolish the TSA and John Pistole’s subsequent response on how great the TSA is? 

  • MarkieA

    Did you actually read my post? I was very clear that my disdain was held for the people who use “Allah hu akbar” as their rallying cry against those they claim to be “the infidels”, not an attack on an entire religion. 

  • MarkKelling

    The point you are missing on the 80 unscreened bags is is that they were unscreened.  That they allegedly contained nothing harmful to a plane is good for the flying public (but we will never know what may have been in those 80 bags since they were not screened).  The rapper’s bag may have contained illegal substances but nothing harmful to the flyers, but it was screened to see that it did not contain anything prohibited.  Since TSA is not a law enforcement organization and their mandated purpose is to keep things that terrorists can use to bring down planes off of planes, not screening those 80 bags violated that mandate.  Not finding or reporting the pot in the suitcase that was screened (if it really was even there to be found) is acceptable because the bag was checked for prohibited items and passed that check.  I don’t find this inconsistent.  I believe any screeners who are not screening bags properly should be fired as should any other TSA employee who is not doing his or her job correctly.  Maybe if enough of them do get fired the rest will get the message that they need to know and follow their policies and procedures instead of making things up on the fly to confuse and intimidate the public at the airport.

    Many airports I fly through already have expedited employee lanes so I’m not sure what is so special about the one in Nashville.  The only thing that is “expedited” in the ones I have seen is that, like the 1st class and other elite level travelers, the employees get to the front of the line quicker but still have to go through the same level of security check as everyone else — bags through the xray and metal detector or scanner for the body.  I have never seen an airport employee or flight crew member “waved through the checkpoint.”  So even if a terrorist found the correct uniform and ID that would allow him or her to use the expedited line, they would still not be able to just walk on through without being checked. (Not having seen the Nashville line, I can’t really say if it is different from the others I have seen but I seriously doubt it.)  Of course the fact that the effectiveness of the checkpoint screening is debatable is a whole ‘nother topic.

  • MarkieA

    Check your facts. Islam is practiced by less than 25% of the world’s population. It is still second to Christianity.

  • MarkieA

    Using God as justification for your actions is nothing new, that much is true. However, I would defy you to point to a part of the Bible that instructs adherents to kill the adherents of another religion, or justifies lying and misleading others to further your religious agenda.

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

    Rape is an entirely accurate word to describe what TSA agents are doing to some passengers as part of their random and unpredictable processes.  I was raped by a TSA agent with a hand-held metal detector.  Here’s the FBI’s definition of rape: rape is “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with
    any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another
    person, without the consent of the victim.”  The TSA penetrated me with an object, without my consent.  Yes, it’s rape.  I’m sorry you think I’m the one who has a problem because I am trying to stop the government from hiring more thugs to rape more people, but it’s pretty shocking how non-chalant you are about women being raped at checkpoints.

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

    I’m sorry to hear that you are also experiencing mental anxiety about going through TSA checkpoints.  I’m in the exact same boat.  Going up against the TSA is utterly terrifying.  The TSA terrorizes innocent people all day long, and it needs to stop.

  • WilliamTouzani

    I meant ahead of the Catholic religion.

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

    I don’t think the article argues that service members are terrorists, but it’s certainly true that on historical averages, active-duty military members are more likely to commit terrorist acts than other U.S. citizens.  It’s utterly senseless to search other citizens in more intense ways when they are less likely to commit terrorist acts than members of the military.  Let’s drop the security theater and admit that  NO ONE deserves a stranger’s hands down his pants – terrorism suspects and police searches with probable cause or warrants excepted.

  • MarkieA

    If you’re gonna make that distinction, then you need to split Islam into Sunni and Shia.

  • Daisiemae

    Professionalism? We are talking about TSA you know.

  • $16635417

    Based on what I interpreted from the article, I assumed the bill was to allow them to “cut” the line like first class and elites do…but, after further review, it may be about less screening, which I do not agree with.

    The only people who really do not need screening are the pilots. We trust them to fly a fuel laden plane while carrying a firearm…I am ok with them having a full size tube of Crest.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    My husband and I were talking about this article and he asked what I thought was a very cogent question.  Who pays for the expedited screening in the first place?  Every ticket has that $2.50 TSA tax imposed on it.  I’m not aware that the fee goes up by class purchased.  In other words, when one pays the extra for the first class ticket, or is a very frequent flyer, thus generating lots of revenue for the *airlines*, how does that translate into paying for a separate, expedited security line? TSA tax is still $2.50.  My husband’s concern was that the average taxpayer is subsidizing the separate line for the elite and frequent flyers. 

    Do the airlines pay for that separate screening line?

  • WilliamTouzani

    Thanks for being so knowledgeable. Most Americans believe there’s one kind of Islam: the Guilty one.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Agreed on all counts then, Mike. :)

  • $16635417

    From what I understand, the airlines pay for the line to the point where a TSA agent looks at your ID, at that point the TSA takes over. That is why the airlines can put a “special” line in place to get first class and elites to the front of the line.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VD65AQPJSXRX2GCRRMINB4VFSY moiraj927

    Has anyone read the book “The Pilot’s Wife?”  I know it is a work of fiction, but the plot shows that similar events (the downing of an aircraft by a bomb brought on board by the pilot deliberately) are entirely within the realm of possibility. 
    I trust pilots with my life every time and I am in favour of granting them some latitude but “stuff happens.”  With that in mind, even in an expedited line created for crew, I believe they should all be screened thoroughly. 

  • naoma

    Would someone please tell me WHEN the Ft. Hood Shooter will be brought to trial?  He killed so many people.  I last read his attorney was “on vacation” and he (the shooter) was under psychiatric care.  Give me a break.  Bring him to TRIAL NOW!!!!!

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Since I don’t fly that much and when I do, it’s out of Eppley (Omaha) or MCI (Kansas City) and neither have elite lines, I’m not really getting the picture here.  Airlines pay for the machinery or space?  While the taxpayers and the purchasers of airfares are paying for an officer or two to be dedicated to a much smaller segment of the population?  In effect, limited resources are being shunted to a small segment of the flying population?  Looking at TSA news releases on the frequent flier programs, it seems that they plan to spend less time with those people, as well (but reserve the right to screen them as thoroughly as the general public on a random basis, so as to foil those trying to game the system – their words).

    So – we’re spending tax dollars and general TSA tax fees to have TSA officers dedicated solely to cursory inspections of first-class and elite flyers, while the rabble piles up in long lines at the other screening sites.  There’s something wrong there in the first place.  I’m with Raven – screen *everybody* the same way.  That ought to bring about some much-needed changes.

  • timothy crowe

    The TSA can’t process Soldiers like civilian slaves. TSA pat down procedures are in violation of DA 600-20. Processing a Soldier through a TSA checkpoint would subject the unit commander to a sexual harassment and or sexual assault charge. As a civilian you have no such civil protections. The new NDAA bill made it very clear if you don’t drink the establishments coo-laid expect to be carted off for indefinite detention. You might want to start thinking about who you elect for president.

  • MarkieA

    Putting aside the whole issue I have with TSA’s apparent disregard for the 4th Amendment – which seems to be the main issue folks have here – I would think that a “I’m OK” card to get through TSA could, in this day and age, be rather easily duplicated by the bad guys.

  • $16635417

    The first class/elite lines basically “cut” the line and bring the passenger to the same TSA agents who checks ID’s before sending you back to the same scanners as everyone else. The first class/elite flyers are the airlines better (spendier) customers and this is how the airline is able to expedite them TO (not through) the checkpoint. They receive the same screening.

  • y_p_w

    The TSA actually is making a big deal about finding drugs and reporting it to the proper local authorities.


    You’re right that they’re not a law enforcement agency per se (although their Air Marshal Service is).  However, I’ve seen armed uniformed TSA agents around airports, but the releases from the TSA say they refer illegal drug cases to whatever local law enforcement has authority at the airport.

    I don’t think whether personnel are “law enforcement” has to be the criteria for whether or not something is done when a violation of the law is seen.  Even an agency like the National Park Service has law enforcement in the form of armed rangers and US Park Police.  If even a maintenance worker sees something illegal going on (including violations of local laws) they will generally call in their own cops.

  • MarkKelling

    The only airport I have seen with a completely dedicated elite line is IAH (Houston, TX Bush Airport) in the C terminal.  And that line is usually longer than the line for the regular passengers since nearly everyone flying on Continental/United is some level of elite.  Every other terminal at IAH and every other airport I have flown through there is no separate group of TSA or separate equipment dedicated only to the elite flyers, you just get to the front of the line quicker.  By the time you get to the xray and scanners, the TSA don’t know you from any other flyer and everyone gets treated the same at the actual checkpoint.

  • MarkKelling

    I have seen Customs and Border Patrol at airports wearing guns (which I believe are part of Homeland Security like the TSA is), but never TSA.  Are you sure about that?

  • MarkKelling

    I see military in uniform going through the TSA checkpoints at airports all the time. Some alone and some with large numbers of others in uniform who appear to be part of the same group.  Some have been patted down like any other traveller with no apparent issues.  So I’m confused about your comments.

  • MarkKelling

    And yes, I do believe that TSA will report you to the proper authorities if they find illegal items in your suitcase.  However, I am skeptical that the so called marijuana shown in the picture by the rapper was in the suitcase or if it was in there it was probably hidden well enough that the TSA screener did not find it depending on what they opened the bag for.  The screener was probably not looking for that when they opened the suitcase.

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  • cjr001

    Again, TSA cannot catch basic prohibited items, such as knives and guns, on a consistent basis.

    Then, while they further waste their time over drugs, we expect them to stop a potential terrorist?

  • cjr001

    “but I could easily imagine a so-called Christian justifying violence on religious grounds.”

    You don’t have to imagine it, as history is filled with examples of it happening.

    The Crusades. Spanish Inquisition. Anti-abortion bombings/killings. Even W. Bush all but said that God told him that invading Iraq would be a pretty neat idea.

  • cjr001

    “As a civilian you have no such civil protections”

    The Constitution says otherwise.

  • y_p_w

    I think Chris (or whoever entered the headline) had a poor choice in verbiage.  I read the entire piece, and it certainly didn’t convey the meaning that one might get from a quick glance at the headline and the photo.

    Perhaps a more accurate headline would have been, “These couldn’t possibly be terrorists – they have uniforms.”

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

    I’m a civilian DOD employee, and I reported being sexually assaulted at the airport by a TSA screener while on official travel.  So far no authority, not the military nor the Congress nor the courts, has been willing to hold the TSA responsible for the sexual violence it perpetrates.

  • davidglass

    I agree 100% on Chris’s point that military members should not get a free pass through screening.

    Timothy McVeigh was in the US military and so was Nadal Hassan.

    90% of what the TSA does is security theater.

  • http://twitter.com/FlyingPhotog Paul Thompson

    Regarding special security lines for flying airline employees…

    I’m an airline employee who flies dozens of times each year through many different airports. These special lines do not put employees under any less scrutiny that I’m aware of. We still have our ID checked, put all our belongings on the conveyor belt, remove our shoes and get scanned by metal detectors or “back scatter” machines like everyone else. These lines merely provide a shorter wait to be screened, not a detour around security measures.

    Other WORKING airport and airline employees can be waived through with just an ID check if they are not flying. If they were to be discovered boarding a plane without full screening it would likely lead to termination, and possibly a fine for their employer. Even if a guy is working the ramp, putting bags on planes all day and wants to fly somewhere after work, he must still complete a full TSA screening like any other air traveler.

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  • The Pilot

    Sorry folks, all the airline employees are screened, and all the military folks are too, even more so with the folks that have higher clearances…