The TSA as we know it is dead — here’s why By Christopher Elliott | November 30, 2012 FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest If you don’t believe the TSA is doomed after watching yesterday’s House Aviation Subcommittee hearing, then you’ll have to at least agree that the agency as we know can’t continue to exist as it does. For starters, TSA Administrator John Pistole refused to testify before the committee on the innocuous subject of “common sense” improvements to America’s airport security, reportedly because the committee has no jurisdiction over his agency. (That’s odd — I always thought Congress funded the federal government, but maybe I wasn’t paying attention during government class.) One by one, panelists took turns excoriating the agency charged with protecting America’s transportation systems. It was plainly clear why Pistole was a no-show, and it had nothing to do with jurisdiction; it would have been an openly hostile crowd. Charles Edwards, the Department of Homeland Security’s acting inspector general, described the TSA as bureaucratic and dysfunctional. Stephen Lord of the Government Accountability Office, suggested the agency was ignoring the thousands of complaints from air travelers. And Kenneth Dunlap, who represented the International Air Transport Association, criticized the current TSA as expensive, inconsistent, and reactive. “As this mushrooming agency has spun out of control,” the committee chairman, John Mica, concluded, “passengers have not been well served.” The congressmen present in the hearing agreed with many of the criticisms, but it’s the solutions that would have sent Pistole running for the exits. On the conservative end, critics recommended aggressively reforming the TSA to create a smaller, more responsive agency that fulfills its mission of protecting and serving air travelers. But some went much further. Charlie Leocha of the Consumer Travel Alliance, who represented the interests of air travelers on the committee, said the TSA should not just be downsized, but also limited to protecting only air travel (something it currently isn’t). In his testimony, he described a future TSA that more closely resembled the pre-9/11 security system, which used magnetometers (metal detectors) as its primary screening method, had employees that dressed in non-threatening uniforms, and banned only the most dangerous weapons, such as guns and explosives, from aircraft. The real security work would take place behind the scenes, prescreening every passenger with the help of technology and through coordination between intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and airlines. “The mass screening of passengers would be replaced for the great majority of passengers with a Trusted Traveler program that seamlessly checks passengers before they fly, while at the same time being respectful of their privacy,” says Leocha. “Every passenger is already prescreened for every flight.” Such an agency would be called the TSA in name only. In fact, it would be better named the Airport Security Administration, although that acronym might be problematic. With a powerful congressional committee like this lining up behind sweeping TSA reform, it is not a question of if, but when Congress — which by the way, does sign the TSA’s checks — acts to dismantle this $8-billion-a-year security boondoggle. I’m not just saying that because I’m CTA’s ombudsman and helped devise some of these solutions. Anyone who doesn’t believe the current TSA is a federal disaster area with an impossibly sprawling mandate isn’t in touch with reality. The TSA as it exists can’t die soon enough. Is the TSA as we know it dead -- or will it just be reformed? Dead. Reformed. View Results Loading ... FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest Christopher ElliottChristopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at email@example.com. Got a question or comment? You can post it on our help forum.More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - LinkedIn - Google Plus y_p_w I remember when I carried a small pocket knife on a neck chain along with my employee badge. At the airport they looked at it and said “Oh – it’s only a pocket knife”. Still – I had a recent TSA experience and I wouldn’t say I felt treated poorly. The agents were actually quite helpful and professional. I also went through SFO which hires private security. They weren’t really any better than I’ve seen from TSA around the country. technomage1 There are good and bad things about the TSA and I’ve had good and bad experiences with them. I do believe reform is necessary and they could do a better job. I like some of the points in the article, including prescreening. This seems to make sense. Why am I, a 15 year vet with a security clearance, treated as the same threat as a 20 year old male from Saudi Arabia? It makes no sense to focus equal efforts on us since we do not present the same risk level. Note I’m not saying all 20 year old males from Saudi are a risk or that vets present no risk. But as groups, the risk level is different. M. K. Hajdin “Trusted Traveler” program? Pre-screenings for elites? No, thank you. We already tried that. The public doesn’t need to be background-checked, controlled and monitored before they are allowed to fly. Replacing one Big Brother program with another does not solve the TSA problem. Our government needs to stop treating us all like criminals. flyingwithfish Chris Yesterday’s subcomittee hearings will not impact the TSA at all. Admin Pistole is not required to attend the hearings, in that there is no penalty or reuirements for him to attend the hearings. The TSA answers to 108 House & Senate subcommittees, all vying for political power, which in turn translates into the TSA not being beholden to The Hill in a manner than allows for true oversight. While you see the TSA as being dead as we know it, I see the agency as being able to thumb its nose at probably 50 subcommittees and never feel the impact. Pistole has failed to attend many subcommittee hearings and has never had any negative impacts to himself or the agency because he, more or less, answers to no one on The Hill directly … which is the central problem here in many way. Happy Flying! Steven Frischling @flyingwithfish Kairho Yes, we tried that. And it works effectively. Time for it to be rolled out to more airports and more participants. cjr001 My vote: “I’ll believe it when I see it”. “If you don’t believe the TSA is doomed after watching yesterday’s House Aviation Subcommittee hearing, then you’ll have to at least agree that the agency as we know can’t continue to exist as it does.” We’ve known this from day one, and yet for all the hearings, which the TSA continues to give both middle fingers to, NOTHING has changed. In fact, it’s only gotten far worse. When these morons in Congress actually DO something about TSA, rather than just say something, repeating themselves ad nauseum to make it look like they deserve their paychecks, then and only then will I believe it. SoBeSparky It is not the job of amateurs in international terrorism and techniques to dictate the forms of security screening to protect U.S. air travel. Further, accountability is key when dealing with people’s lives. Consumer advocates and travel columnists carry no accountability when it comes to air safety. The federal government does. It is not a matter of whether or not an agency is liked or detested. It is a matter of the real bottom line–is it effective? No, not theoretically effective, but actually effective in protecting those flying to and from American airports. Keeping the entire process somewhat edgy is one technique to effective security. Experts suggest keeping would-be terrorists off balance can be effective. Until I see evidence of TSA malfeasance in protecting the American public, I think the TSA is accomplishing it primary mission. All the rest of this brouhaha is a mere distraction from saving lives. If you don’t like the Patriot Act, then have it changed as the law of the land. That is a separate issue. Likewise if you feel certain actions violate the Bill of Rights, then take it to the courts to settle the issue. Randy Busch I’ve always thought that the TSA should model themselves after the Israeli airline security. As far as I know (I might be wrong) their record is pretty good. Len Oxman My congratulations to the TSA for having replaced the IRS as the most detested agency in the federal government. BD Government workers belong to unions which support Democrats. The Dems will never allow a single TSA worker to be terminated. It’s that simple. rn74 I do feel it violates the constitution, but the courts have done little to protect citizens. That leaves it to each and every one of us to fight the TSA ourselves. If you wish to throw your rights away to “feel” safe, that’s fine, I don’t. If the government got out of this, as they should, and allowed private companies to do this, I’d have no problem. If a private screen touched my wife or kids inappropriately, he’d be labelled a sex offender and jailed. That’s the way it should be. You know it, I know it, and the American people know it. SoBeSparky Private companies shielded by corporate shells and off-shore entities being held accountable for thousands of American lives each day? Hardly. That is foolhardy, and certainly not prudent. Next, would you like to subcontract our nuclear arsenal, as well as international surveillance to detect pending attacks on the U.S.? How about just subcontracting our entire military to Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, and Sheldon Adelson to bring private sector effectiveness to the grossly inefficient public sector performing its public purposes. Taking the law into your own hands is the outcry from many fringe wingnuts. The places to change laws and regulations are in elections and in the courts. That is what keeps us from becoming just another banana republic where generals and others self-appoint themselves dictators. cjr001 Yeah, those Republicans in Congress are doing a bang-up job in putting TSA in their place! Oh, wait, they aren’t doing a bloody thing either, are they? Steven Frischling Randy, The TSA cannot use the Israeli aviation security model for a number of reasons to complex to detail in this reply. If you’d like more info I have written about it, find me on Twitter at @flyingwithfish rn74 You can keep it civil and stop insulting me. It is not foolhardy at all. What does any of this have to do with shell corporations and off-shore entities? I simply said privatize it since this is outside the scope of the government’s powers. A quick look at the constitution tells us that. A private security screener touches someone inappropriately and he’d be headed straight to jail. No shell corporation can protect them from that. I don’t advocate outsourcing military functions, just airport security. I won’t bite at the straw man. As to your insult that taking the law in to our own hands makes us fringe wingnuts, that’s your right. I feel it is a disservice to me, my children, and certainly all those that fought and died to abandon my rights to an overzealous government. Allowing government to usurp powers, if I may be so bold, is more like what you’d find in a banana republic. JenniferFinger I’m not seeing where he “insulted” you except that you chose to take offense. Calm down. lorcha Israel’s record is pretty good, but their screening wouldn’t translate well to our rates of air travel. Israel is a tiny country, with virtually all domestic travel done by bus or car. Even a vacation to Jordan or Egypt would be via ground transportation. Also, Israel has compulsory military service, so you have more people who are trained in intelligence. Can you imagine trying to interview every passenger, with the potentially searching a passenger’s entire contents of his/her luggage with a fine-toothed comb, at say, ORD or LAX or ATL or MCO (nightmare!) or pretty much any other busy US airport? There just aren’t enough hours in the day or capable screeners to accomplish this task. We just have too much air travel and not enough capable screeners here to emulate the Israelis. Lisa Simeone Randy, Israeli security is also abusive. It relies heavily on racial and ethnic profiling. If you’re the “right” type, you’ll be ushered quickly through. If you’re the “wrong” type, you’ll be hassled and even roughed up. I know people to whom this has happened. And if you’re a peace activist, forget it — you’ll be cavity-searched in a back room. Just ask Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, who’s written publicly about her experience. Also, bombs still go off in Israel, just not on planes. There’s no such thing as 100% Security Everywhere All The Time. That’s a fantasy. Unfortunately, it’s a fantasy millions of credulous, childish Americans choose to believe in. Instead of growing up and behaving like citizens — the way, for example, the Brits did during the Blitz — they choose to cower in fear and run screaming every time someone utters the words “nine-eleven.” They’ve given the terrorists precisely what they wanted. Lisa Simeone “Until I see evidence of TSA malfeasance in protecting the American public, I think the TSA is accomplishing it primary mission. All the rest of this brouhaha is a mere distraction from saving lives.” Bullsh*t. You’ve seen plenty of evidence and you know it. You’ve discussed it with us on this blog. pradcliffe Oh, please. lorcha Chris, with respect, you are reading too much into a congressional hearing. Legislators are capable of producing ridiculous quantities of hot air while accomplishing nothing. The hearing that you saw was for C-SPAN’s cameras, so that members could deliver a few soundbites to appear to be addressing constituents’ concerns about the TSA. The timing coincides with the busy holiday travel season, when constituents are busy getting sexually assaulted by TSA screeners and thinking, “Gee, this man is touching my testicles and I don’t like it. Can’t somebody do something about this?” Wake me when there’s an actual bill somewhere. rn74 Calm down? I never said anything to indicate I wasn’t. The insult was plain as day in his final paragraph. Charles B The new agency will be named the Diplomatic Undercover Mitigation Bureau for Aviation Service Security. They will replace all the millimeter wave units with even more expensive Screening Corrals Required for Early Weapons-Usage. Things won’t get any better, but at least the acronyms will fit. SoBeSparky We are splitting hairs, so to speak. Yes, there has been malfeasance in the operation of the TSA. My assertion is that there has not been malfeasance in respect to protecting the public, that is, keeping the air traffic system safe. By and large, the TSA is accomplishing its mission: “The Transportation Security Administration protects the nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.” Christopher Elliott Please, let’s keep this civil. Christopher Elliott I don’t think I’m overplaying this. Remember, it took years for the civil rights movement to gain momentum. I would rather lead than follow on this issue. The next generation of travelers will thank us for taking a stand now. lorcha Oh, by all means, lead. I’m not claiming that this is an unworthy cause. I’m just saying that you can’t draw any conclusions from a congressional hearing by a committee with no jurisdiction. You need to weigh the anti-TSA venom against the following: If you were a member of Congress and there was a successful transportation-related terrorist attack, are you going to want to have to defend your vote to defang the TSA? I’m sure there are members of Congress who would be on-board, but that’s a mighty big political risk. MikeB You don’t think bad guys would take the time to become “trusted travelers” to avoid deeper screening? I don’t have a problem with screening children or old people. If you blanket exempt anyone from deeper screening you’re just telling bad guys to go after that group. Put the bomb in the baby’s diaper. Let grandma hide it in her wheel chair. This is no longer America. It’s ‘Murica! People are getting crazier and crazier all the time. All weapons need to be kept off not just the “most dangerous” you mentioned. Sure some things probably need to be reformed, but most of what they do needs to be done. Don’t like it, don’t like the TSA, don’t fly. No one HAS to fly. No one. cahdot didn’t i just hear that the TSA is now part of one of the federal unions..??just what we need TonyA_says Record pretty good? I bet a Palestinian would prefer the TSA anytime rather than passing security in Ben Gurion. Rosanne Skopp Just some things I don’t understand. I do know TSA is incompetent, essentially useless, and definitely annoying. But I don’t relate to the so-called security focus only on airplanes (notice, not on airports since there’s zero security to enter an airport or terminal). If we’re serious about security it has to be functioning in numerous other areas of our daily lives such as bridges, tunnels, shopping centers, movies, ad infinitum. Israel posts security checkers at every entrance to a mall, airport terminal, many restaurants, movies etc. And, nonetheless the terrorists who blew up the Egged bus last week seem to have had a fairly unchallenged route to mayhem. I’m a frequent flier who’s willing to take the chance that my plane and fellow passengers will be safe without any government intervention. After all I go to the movies, shop, take taxis and ride ferries with no uniformed agent x-raying me or my belongings, so why not fly with the same minimal precautions. We are paying billions of bucks for ineptitude so let’s either find a better way or shut down TSA entirely. TonyA_says Amateurs? There must be more than 300 million amateurs residing in the USA who still value some form of decency and liberty. Hmm… who are these supposed EXPERTS? Are they above the Congress of the USA? Dianne Sadly, I believe the violations of our privacy are destined to continue. Any reform will offer more of the same. The scar to our country was so great from 9/11 that reason has flown out the window. For two years I refused to fly, taking trains or driving. While that offered some great experiences, as well as the chance to avoid the invasive and embarassing screening procedures, it was not viable for me as a business traveler. Recently, flying from Seattle, I was pulled for a pat down. The TSA employee was polite and respectful but I found the experience as humiliating as it was in the early days when it seemed every TSA employee came pre-equipped with a snarl. Reluctantly, I have applied for and been approved for the pre-clear program. I do believe that TSA workers in future years will be downsized. What will take their place is what is used at global entry points at airports, a kiosk where you can scan your fingerprints and identification documents. I also doubt very much it will be limited to flying. Maybe someday, with enough effort, we can restore some reason to our society but laws take time to change and many people most affected do not have the money to take to the courts. SoBeSparky I think neither you nor I are qualified to pick the type of screening machines and technologies. That is why I said amateurs should not “dictate the forms of security screening to protect U.S. air travel.” Up above it says Charlie Leocha testified thusly: “he described a future TSA that more closely resembled the pre-9/11 security system, which used magnetometers (metal detectors) as its primary screening method…” I think we know 9/11 occurred in part because of inadequate screening, in this case for razor blade box cutters, because of poor coordination between intelligence agencies and because of flimsy cockpit doors. To dictate we return to magnetometers is like saying let’s return to the sundial rather than quartz movement watches. And this ignores the more recent nonmetallic threats in shoes and underwear. Further, to wave a magic wand and say all security and intelligence agencies will be cooperating is wishing for nirvana. It is a worthwhile objective, but in reality cannot be achieved as long as human nature and fiefdoms are involved. Creating one single overarching law enforcement/security agency to coordinate all data is an even more threatening concept. It would make the Patriot Act look like a Barbie doll. (Sorry for mixed metaphors.) Yes, we all know what should NOT happen at security checkpoints to preserve dignity of all involved. That is completely separate and distinct from amateurs dictating the specific technologies to use in screening passengers. TonyA_says You say you travel to China (or overseas) often. Can you please compare security there vs the TSA. I bet even an amateur would recognize some differences. Do *they* feel your private parts in China? Lindabator LOVE IT!!! TonyA_says Maybe we should just try to copy Chinese airline security (after all almost everything in my local Walmart, Kmart, Sears, etc. is made there)? You need to see how they handle airline security over there http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/718017.shtml SoBeSparky In my 26 trips to and from China (52 trips), the international segments are more strictly inspected. Whether that includes private parts or not is not as important as the added restrictions in my opinion. All passengers departing China to the USA must have all carry-ons submitted to an at-gate hand inspection. They open all bags, not spot check. Liquids, especially water bottles, other than the 3-1-1 bag, are confiscated. You do not take off your belt or shoes at China security checkpoints. Instead, virtually everyone fails the magnetometer. Then you step on a pedestal and are wand searched by the security personnel. I have not had a hand-on inspection of my crotch, but my hips, butt and thighs have been patted down. Computers are scanned separately, like in the U.S. I have had my hand baggage inspected at the security checkpoint and resubmitted to the scanning machine, so it seems they are watching their equipment. I do not know of all the security information provided in advance by the airline to the TSA, in terms of passport number and other data, however we know it is done in every case. In times of localized discontent or high-profile events, the airport terminal entrances are subject to security screening and inspection. So for the Olympics 2008, Expo 2010, and various “freedom-oriented” protests annually about Tibet, you will encounter magnetometers at the airport building entrance. You must show your Chinese ID card or foreign passport to enter and walk through the machine, then be subjected to the wand. (As an aside, it is noteworthy that Congress rejected calls for national ID card even when adopting the onerous misnomer called the “Patriot Act.” In China it is hard to move or do much of anything without showing your China ID card. I consider it a clear sign of a police state to be required to carry a government ID at all times everywhere.) For those interested in minutiae, international and domestic terminals in Shanghai are physically disconnected with separate security checkpoints and terminal gates. So those going from domestic to international must go through security again. I have had security personnel for domestic travel simply ask me to gulp from a water bottle to prove it is harmless and then let it pass through. All lighters and sharp objects are confiscated, of course. If you have time, they will allow you to go back to the check-in counter to check your banned (but not illegal) item in your luggage. To answer your question, yes, even an amateur like I can recognize added procedures in China when flying to an American airport. I have never had anyone feel my crotch (as I consider that alone as my “private parts”). After racking up over 600,000 real butt-in-seat miles in the last five years, no one has given me a feel or squeeze of “my junk.”. I am not sure how I would react, as being a male I am fairly certain there is no general intent at sexual aggression on the part of the TSA personnel. Conceptually, I can clearly see the loss of dignity by many when their private parts are patted down or squeezed, especially in a public venue. Respect does not equal leniency, however, and there’s the rub. TonyA_says Did you see any of those x-ray or milliwave scanners in China? Btw, thanks for your excellent description. The reason why I am asking is because I would like all of us to compare what we experience here with the TSA vs other foreign counterparts. James Babb Ⓐ It should be killed, but failure in government just means more money and power. Brace yourself for the “solution.” Brooke Lorren I agree. I stopped flying when they foisted the “enhanced” (aka, let’s put our hands inside your underwear) patdowns at the airports. I won’t fly until they get rid of them, unless by some miracle I can go on a private jet or fly out of an airport that doesn’t have this kind of security. I’ll start flying again only when I know that I can fly safely, and I’m not talking about safety from terrorists. I’m talking about safely from molestation by a TSA agent. amyarrow I do not belong to any political party but it seems to me that both sides have convient long term memory issues, editing out anything that looks bad for their party and keeping anything that points a finger at another. TSA was instituted when George Bush was still president after 9/11. It was a creation of the republican party. I think both sides can share the responsibility for this “boondoggle” of an agency. SoBeSparky No, I have not seen any high-tech body scanners in China. They pretty much pat down everyone. When you consider the cost of labor versus capital equipment, and the size of the new international airport departure points, I can see why they just employ more people to wear police-type uniforms to pat down everyone. Only the lack of shoe inspection gives me pause, assuming shoes are a real threat. I could have answered this whole subject thusly: China is a police state in many respects. Compliance is expected from birth, and ingrained. All guns and offensive weapons like knives are banned from entry into the country. They spot check in-bound luggage in the green lane through a magnetometer, and I have seen some people detained for illegal materials. Most people consider Chinese prisons and workcamps as a significant deterrent. More bluntly, don’t try to screw with the Chinese Public Security Bureau (PSB). Susan J. Barretta “Thank you” is not enough to commend everybody who has: voluntarily stopped flying; started an organization or website to monitor TSA and halt its agenda; given a presentation in Washington on TSA; created a petition to stop TSA; filed a lawsuit against TSA; faced arrest defying TSA and/or filming their actions; stood on a street corner or in an airport to protest TSA; filed complaints with TSA, with the ACLU, with EPIC, or with the Rutherford Institute; written extensively to Congress, to newspapers or to other publications on the subject of TSA. These are what real ACTIONS are. The actions of these people go way above and beyond clicking a Like button or dropping a two line email to a Congressman. Having said that, watching Congress huffing and puffing and screaming is NOT ACTION. It is political theater. We saw this with the banking crisis. A few bankers got yelled at and their wrists slapped. There was no major corrective action to restore integrity in our asset markets and make sure those who committed fraud got justice. It’s exactly the same here. We cannot underestimate the lifespan and reach of the TSA. We cannot assume that Washington will ever be logical. We have to assume that Congress is doing NOTHING. We may not be able to wear down Washington with logic. But maybe we CAN kill this beast with a thousand paper cuts if we continue all this activity and WAY MORE. Susan J. Barretta An ex-TSA screener who participated with me in a street corner protest a year ago told me that some of the obnoxious turds who work there are actually PROUD of that distinction. Robsshots These idiots in D.C. wouldn’t know how to kill a government bureaucracy if you took it out back, blindfolded it, and handed a twelve gauge to these fools. It’s another scam for power, control and bankrupting the nation while screwing its citizens. Robsshots I’m with you, Brooke. Withdraw until – if ever – they close this mother down. Robsshots Dead right, Alex. TSA was the initiative of John Mica, REPUBLICAN. But now that there is a bureaucracy that is in place, no dem in their right mind (as if any of them have a mind to begin with) would do ANYTHING to reduce the number of voters sucking money from the feds. Lisa Simeone 1. You’re wrong that “No one HAS to fly.” Some people are forced to fly for work. They can’t afford to quit their jobs. Others are forced to fly for medical procedures. 2. You’re obviously not up on the news. The TSA is infesting everywhere. Google “VIPR” and then come back. 3. You don’t like it? Then you don’t fly. Let the rest of us, the ones who are guided by reason and not by fear, live our lives freely and fly in freedom and dignity. Lisa Simeone BD, enough already with this baloney left/right false dichotomy! Both parties are at fault. Both parties are gutless. The worthless wankers in Congress are from both parties. This is a bi-partisan mess and needs a bi-partisan solution. We’re all in this together. Quit playing Divide-and-Conquer. That’s exactly what our overlords would like us to do. Lisa Simeone Brava, Brooke. I’ve done likewise. I used to fly a lot. I stopped in 2010, just before the Reign of Molestation was implemented. I love travel more than I can say, and I’ve taken no end of sh*t for my decision from family and friends. I don’t care. They’re wrong, and when they, eventually, get the grope of a lifetime, they’ll realize it. In the meantime, I’ve discovered, to my surprise, that I can afford to take the QM2 across the ocean. No TSA thugs handling me or my belongings. We’re already booked for spring. nateabele This is ignorant at best, and dangerous at worst. The federal government is not, in any sense, responsible for peoples’ safety, in any context whatsoever. This runs entirely counter to the founding principles of this country. On the contrary, the federal government is responsible for ensuring peoples’ *liberty*, especially from unwarranted searches as seizures by government organizations & officials at all levels (to be clear, ‘unwarranted’ means one has not committed and is not suspected of committing a crime). In the instance of air travel, we have private individuals engaging in private business with private companies. The government has no place here. People are perfectly capable of holding airlines accountable by choosing not to fly if they believe said airline’s security standards are not adequate to their personal safety. This is otherwise known as freedom. TonyA_says Do you always fly to Pudong direct from the USA? Or do you sometimes fly via a non-Communist country like Japan, So. Korea, Taiwan or even Hong Kong. If you do, did you experience anything different as far as airport security in those countries? Here is where I am going with all these questions: 1) People do not like those scanners. They are public enemy #1. 2) Foreign (International) flights to the USA has a different protocol because the USA requires it. That protocol often requires manual inpection of all hand carry, throwing away of all water bottles including those bought inside the secure zone, and the lottery SSSS selectee process. 3) International flights not involving the USA or Israel is quite similar to pre 911 security except for liquids 4) mostly all other countries domestic flight use handy carry and luggage xray only and passengers walk through magnemometer. No shoes removed. Wands used if machine beeps. Laptops usually separated and from hand carry. 5) USA Pat downs are thorough. International ones cannot be called a pat down. What they do is feel if you are carrying. That is why it is quick and light handed in my opinion. Next time bring a stopwatch and time it. First tell me if I am wrong or you have a very different experience. Then, try to figure out why the TSA process has to be very different than other countries. Why do we have machines and they dont? I am sure you have experienced the crazy crowd in PVG or BJS. Why dont they use scanners there? Maybe because it slows down the whole process. Hong Kong is another great example. It has also plenty of money to spend on their beautiful airport. Why haven’t I seen a scanner there? Japan is even stricter than China IMO. You cannot go to Japan if you were convicted of a Drug violation. Sometimes they even ask you if you have a weapon in your suitcase. But no scanners. So maybe getting rid of the scanners as Charlie Leocha says is a good start. We all might be amateurs but we can compare and we have a brain that can ask why it is so different here. Dobber I don’t believe anything meaningful will happen. If anything does change, it’ll likely just be more lip service. Or perhaps more accurately, lipstick on a pig. The TSA culture is poisonous. The only way to reform it would be to get rid of most of it’s management. I just don’t see it happening when so many politicians actually seem pleased to have this federal jobs program in place. PostPainter We do need some sort of screening to feel safe as we board an airplane. Lisa Simeone PostPainter, no one’s saying we don’t need screening. None of us have ever said that. JimDavisHouston Let’s face the facts The TSA will be around for a long time. That’s how our Government works. They’ll spend Billions trying to reform, and every time it will be a failure. Pistole is just another arrogant turd, and sadly, I believe he’ll continue his crap. Lisa Simeone lorcha, if any of our Congressional wankers had a tenth of the grit the British displayed during the Blitz, we wouldn’t be where we are today. SoBeSparky Considering the differences between the 18th and 21st centuries (high seas vs. the skies), and the clear intents of the framers, here are a few powers of the federal government as delineated in the Constitution: “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States. To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes; To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations; To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.” Lets just consider the 3,000+ victims of September 11, 2001, and the many tens of thousands of relatives and friends. You assert the federal government does not have the primary responsibility to prevent this massive bloodshed? The U.S. clearly has authority to provide for the common Defence and general welfare, to regulate commerce between the states, to punish piracies and felonies and Offences against the Law of Nations, to call forth the militia to suppress insurrections and repel invasions, and to make laws to carry out the above purposes. Putting aside all the over-reaching adjectives, your post claims the federal government does not have these powers when they are outlined above, and have been consistently interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court for over 200 years. While the Commerce Clause may have been too broadly interpreted on some occasions, it always has been clear that transportation between the states is the purview of the federal government. Whether you want to pigeonhole terrorism as piracies, felonies, invasions, war or insurrections, most readers will discern the intent to have violent threats against large groups in the United States to be handled by the federal government. Finally, most argue that one submits to the search as a part of one’s voluntary decision to travel by air, just like one submits to the regulation of driving (including a test and valid license) by one’s voluntary decision to drive a vehicle. To have an unregulated safety environment in the air would be just as disastrous as unbridled driving on the highways without licenses, laws, signs and regulations to protect the populace. Ben Franklin is credited with creating the symbol of the rattlesnake representing the colonies. At first (1754) the snake was cut up into pieces, representing the colonies, powerless separately during the French & Indian War. Later on combined as a whole with thirteen rattles, it came to represent the nation, a potent symbol of American unity against the British. Finally, it became transformed from newspaper artwork to a famous flag representing the power of the union and a common defence. To say that providing for the common defence against rebellion, insurrection, felonies, piracy and war has no part in the federal government strikes at the very nature of the union and the snake, “Join or Die.” “Don’t Tread on Me.” These were wise men, indeed. Zombie Prep Network If I could choose which TSA agent put HER hands inside my underwear, I’d fly every day. But I get to have my boys fondled by a dude when I fly. nateabele Since it’s clear you’ve never studied the history and origins around most of what you cite (particularly the general welfare and interstate commerce clauses, of which most peoples’ understanding is egregiously perverted), and I don’t have the time or interest sufficient to compile a comprehensive list of citations, I’m just gonna leave these here… http://www.cato.org/pubs/journal/cj16n1-11.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_of_marque#21st-century_American_reconsideration_of_Letters_of_Marque Along with a couple quick notes: > Finally, most argue that one submits to the search as a part of one’s voluntary decision to travel by air Indeed, it would be an entirely different matter if the security were provided by a private entity (whether the airline or not), but the 4th Amendment is binding on all activity carried out by government, federal, state, and local. > To have an unregulated safety environment in the air would be just as disastrous as unbridled driving on the highways without licenses, laws, signs and regulations to protect the populace. Your inability to correctly formulate an argument is nothing if not consistent. Hint: passengers don’t drive planes, and enacting standard-setting security regulation is not equal to imposing (and carrying out) specific implementations of security procedures, particularly when those implementations are in violation of the law, as well as established jurisprudence going back hundreds of years, not to mention common decency. > To say that providing for the common defence against rebellion, insurrection, felonies, piracy and war has no part in the federal government strikes at the very nature of the union and the snake You’re conflating separate, unrelated ideas on several different levels here. Also, the idea of what the federal government should be differed sharply from how we see it today. See also the debate between Jeffersonian Republicanism and Hamiltonian Federalism. TonyA_says Re: Lets just consider the 3,000+ victims of September 11, 2001, and the many tens of thousands of relatives and friends. OK I do that. I am local to the area. No relatives or my personal friends died, but parents of my kids’ friends did. Do you really, really, think that they believe the TSA would have prevented 911? I have yet to hear that from anyone here. The basic question is why should AMERICANS undergo these pat downs and dangerous scanners at all? Why isn’t a magnetometer or wand good enough? This is crazy if you ask me. cjr001 And that’s really what it comes down to: the Congresscritters don’t want to be the ones called out when there’s another attack (and it’s *when*, not *if*). Never mind that TSA will never stop a terrorist. As long as TSA puts on a good show, the critters think they have political cover. cjr001 “No one HAS to fly. No one.” No one has to fly. No one has to take the subway. No one has to get on a boat. No one has to take a bus. No one has to drive down the street. No one has to go to a sporting event. No one has to visit a mall. No one has to look so damn silly to continue on with the “no one has to fly” routine when TSA wants to get their blue-gloved hands on EVERYTHING. SoBeSparky It is unfortunate you obfuscate and demean the messenger rather than understand the consistent standing interpretations of the Constitution. Your citation of the Cato Institute speaks for itself for those who know of its background and ideology. In “your world,” all these laws, regulations and interpretations are unconstitutional. The problem is that the governing powers as outlined in the Constitution do not agree with you, year after year. Lisa Simeone SoBeSparky, before you or anyone else goes around trying to use the supposed trump card of “9/11! 9/11!” you should know that the 9/11 families themselves don’t agree with you: http://www.911familiesforamerica.org/?p=6141 Lisa Simeone SoBeSparky, practically our entire military is privately subcontracted. SoBeSparky Tony, I never asserted any such thought. Really, my sentence relates to the power of the federal government to regulate air safety. The poster was declaring there was no federal authority to create the TSA. I thought I clearly said, in context, what I meant: “You assert the federal government does not have the primary responsibility to prevent this massive bloodshed? The U.S. clearly has authority to provide for the common Defence and general welfare, to regulate commerce between the states, to punish piracies and felonies and Offences against the Law of Nations, to call forth the militia to suppress insurrections and repel invasions, and to make laws to carry out the above purposes.” That is the sum of my comment relating to 9/11. No where did I imply anything would have, could have, might have, or should have been prevented only if…. nateabele contends passenger screening should be completely deregulated. I strongly disagree. No “free market” creates a safe and effective passenger safety program, just like it did not create a safe and effective oil drilling program, or safe and effective drug research and marketing program. The federal government is far from perfect. However, what would be the frequency of BP-type oil explosions and Thalidomide drugs without the federal government regulation and control of certain activities? Imagine all these companies doing what they feel will protect their reputation as their only criterion. That is nateabele’s position. No federal control and regulation, nateabele suggests. My response was, tell the survivors that the federal government has no role to prevent a similar horror. Why isn’t the magnetometer enough? Why isn’t a propeller enough? Why aren’t horses enough? Why do we need e-readers? I am not in a position to analyze these passenger scanning technologies, and most of the readers here probably are not either. So I am an amateur. Scientific advancement requires us to place a good deal of trust in others. All this is beyond most of our abilities. We know the results, but we do not know how the technology works. Change happens and when analysts conclude new techniques are better, more efficient, etc., then we should seriously consider their findings instead of yearning for yesteryear. Trust me, yesteryear (before 2001) was no picnic either. Lots of lines, lots of searches, lots of inconsistencies from airport to airport. People were just as upset, but did not have a single lightning rod such as the TSA presents. Lisa Simeone “Scientific advancement requires us to place a good deal of trust in others. All this is beyond most of our abilities. We know the results, but we do not know how the technology works.” Sorry, not in the case of the scanners, which have been proven to be ineffective. By actual security experts who actually study security. You don’t have to be Einstein to understand this. SoBeSparky With all due respect to the survivors, this individual does not claim to speak for the relatives of 3,000+ people. She is the co-founder of an organization. That is all we know. We know of no poll, vote or convention at which this group would form a general opinion and authorize Ms. Burlingame to speak for them. Frankly I cannot even find what kind of an organization this is, how many members it has, who funds it, etc. To generalize from one person’s opinion to tens of thousands is a huge stretch. TonyA_says Yup Hitler, Stalin, and Mao had so much power all right. No one questioned them (or they got killed). Look what happened. As much as people hate lines (not just in airports), they hate nude-o-scopes and being groped more. The latter is just UNAMERICAN. In my opinion, it is the right of every American to question government (to be specific – petition the Government for a redress of grievances) and the rest of the Bill of Rights that makes this country great. People HATE those scanners and pat downs and they are making their government know about it. They could care less about technology or science. They want their privacy. Extramail I’d love for you to suggest that title to the congressional committee and see how many figured it out before they voted on it? Wanna take a bet on how many would vote on it without even reading it? Lisa Simeone SBS, I’m saying quit trying to capitalize on 9/11. 9/11 happened. It’s not the only terrorist attack in this country’s history. More people are killed every year in car accidents than have been — or ever likely will be — by terrorism in this country. 9/11 isn’t a trump card. Just because 9/11 happened doesn’t mean we should throw away our rights, as millions of people are clearly willing to do. SoBeSparky First one must define ineffective. Then one should examine all technical evaluations, both good and bad. Finally, this should be translated to layman English. There are too many specious assertions on the internet without commonly accepted attributions. I trust very little on the internet unless it is general knowledge or verifiable. You might be able to assert some experts say they are ineffective. Or that other companies think their machines are better. But to flatly unequivocally state “proven to be ineffective,” is too broad without some powerful attribution to a consensus of opinions. Extramail And, what is congress going to say when that ” when” happens? “It was the other parties fault,” just for starters. Lisa Simeone SBS, we have provided the evidence umpteen times, at this blog and at TSA News. You’ve read it. Now we’re supposed to do it all over again in this comment thread?? So that you can again claim it’s not credible or in comprehensible English or blah blah blah? God, some people are tiresome. Edited to Add: Okay, here ya go. Not that it’ll make a dent, but here’s more evidence: http://tsanewsblog.com/1901/news/passenger-slips-metal-by-tsa-scanners-repeatedly/ http://tsanewsblog.com/3186/news/tsa-failure-by-the-numbers/ http://tsanewsblog.com/2438/news/jon-corbetts-new-video-tsa-screener-admits-scanners-are-a-boondoggle/ http://tsanewsblog.com/2904/news/the-tsa-would-have-missed-the-bomb-the-cia-found/ http://tsanewsblog.com/5590/news/your-pants-may-be-cleared-but-baggage-still-goes-unscreened/ Extramail Because we can’t profile in this country. But, we can allow TSA agents to physically assault us. Makes sense, huh? nateabele Indeed, and it’s your kind who believe in such illogical absurdities as the federal government being a check and balance on its own power. Congressional and judicial interpretations are just as philosophically irrelevant as the Federalist Papers are practically irrelevant, and we’re the worse for it. Lisa Simeone Extramail, it’s a false dichotomy. We don’t have to settle for “It’s Either Profile or Assault.” Crude profiling of the sort many people propose — and which the TSA, predictably, already engages in, as many news reports have revealed — doesn’t work. I’m not going to repeat all the obvious reasons why. By now people should be able to figure it out. What TSA apologists — and racial/ethnic profilers — never answer is a simple question: Why, in all the years when we weren’t being scanned or groped, weren’t planes being blown out of the sky left and right? Could it be because, contrary to fearmongers’ claims, “The Terrorists!” aren’t, in fact, everywhere? Lisa Simeone Pre-Check is a boondoggle. And an extortion racket. After you pay your 100 bucks, you might not have to take your shoes off, you might not have to take your coat off, you might not have to take your laptop out, you might not get scanned, you might not get groped. Might might might. The TSA itself admits this. More importantly, it’s ethically indefensible. It’s the very embodiment of “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” People who sign on to Pre-Check are not only paying protection money to an abusive agency, they’re metaphorically spitting on their fellow passengers. We’ve written about this countless times at TSA News: http://tsanewsblog.com/6652/news/tsa-continues-to-trumpet-pre-check-boondoggle/ MarkieA A friend of mine, a few years back, told the TSA that he was uncomfortable having a male patting him down. He got a female instead. No lie! TonyA_says SoBeSparky I just want to add that it was the brave AMATEURS on flight UA93 (from Newark EWR, NJ) who fought the terrorist, hijackers so the airplane could not be used as a missile to kill more Americans. So when push comes to shove the AMATEURS give up their lives or liberty. I guess the new name for the 99% is AMATEURS. You are correct since in French, an amateur is a “Lover of” … life, liberty and justice for all. TonyA_says Lisa, I cannot see the reason why the TSA cannot simply pre-check everyone when they are already doing Secure Flight at least 72 hours before the flight. I cannot see the difference if they simply get someone’s ID ahead of time and check his/her records. What’s one more number (i.e. Driver’s License, SSN, etc.) to give away when they already have all the information about us? (note for international the passport # is keyed in already). If you are a foreigner in the USA then your records should already be with the gov’t. Lisa Simeone Tony, I think you’ve answered your own question. They already have all the information (and more) they need on us. Why pay an extra 100 bucks to maybe might perhaps sometimes possibly could be spared getting assaulted? Daisiemae Tiresome,yes. Beyond belief. Why is everyone catering to this person by continually engaging him? y_p_w I friend of mine used to be into weapons. I remember he showed me some of the stuff he bought, including plastic or composite blades that supposedly wouldn’t show up on a metal detector. What he intended to do with them was another matter. I don’t believe they were effective slicing weapons, but they could probably be used to stab someone. Edmund Ruffin The TSA is just another federal jobs program. Unfortunately, that is the way the p.c. military is going, just another jobs program with ‘equal’ rights for women and sodomites. TonyA_says Honestly, so what? That’s not gonna take a plane down. By the time he stabs one or two, the rest of the passengers will get him pinned down on the floor. Also the air marshal is armed. Not enough reason to hassle the whole flying public with dangerous scanners that is not even guaranteed to catch his weapons. As Charlie Leocha said, concentrate on explosives if we can. technomage1 Or because the threat has changed. Terrorism has always been present but the risk has increased for attacks in the US following the end of the Cold War. Additionally, attacks where the main objective is mass casualties have increased worldwide. Katherine Coull Chris, did you happen to see CNN tonight with asegment on drones that are designed to resemble creatures? They had fish tank with a very real-looking guppy creature swimming around. It’s designed to investigate our harbors, shipyards, ships and other possibly terrorist targets. The other drones are ‘mules’ (not the drug smuggling ones) and horses. This idiotic research and development is being funded by the the TSA. I couldn’t believe it, and on second or third thought, it’s only natural, considering everything about them. Even paranoids have real enemies. Happy Holidays to all. Lisa Simeone technomage1, yes, more people around the world are killed by terrorism than are or ever have been in this country. People in other parts of the world suffer more from terrorism than we do. So why won’t Americans grow up and acknowledge that, instead of running around screaming like maniacs from an episode of The Twilight Zone? Why are Americans still driving, when around 35,000 of them every year are killed in traffic accidents? As many in gun shootings? How many 9/11s is that? More are struck by lightning than killed by terrorism. More drown in their bathtubs than are killed by terrorism. More choke on sandwiches. So let’s all stop eating, bathing, and driving! Better yet, let’s post TSA types to monitor our behavior every waking hour. After all, Anything For Safety! katie anderson The threat is still less than your own furniture poses to you and significantly less than road travel which many people are opting into rather than deal with the TSA. Driving is actually more dangerous than flying and more dangerous than your own furniture. JenniferFinger Folks, enough with the “No one HAS to do X” routine. It is causing a snidefest here. technomage1 My use of the term “worldwide” was meant to include the US. So, while the risk of a terrorist attack inside the US has increased, they are getting deadlier too. Gone are the days when terrorists would warn authorities that an attack was coming (such as the IRA did on multiple occasions). Acknowledging this and taking steps to prevent it is much less twilight zone that walking around saying “Well, it likely won’t happen to me so lets not do a thing about it. I don’t want to have to go through any hassle”. They used to train us in the service that if we were involved in a terrorist hijacking not to argue or to fight the terrorists. Back then typically that increased your odds of survival because killing wasn’t the terrorists goal. Now it is, and they train us to fight back because casualties have become the terrorist goal. Each of the activities you mention has risk mitigation associated with it proportional to the risk. To take an extreme case, nuclear weapons would cause a great deal of damage and loss of life if they were accidentally or purposely (terrorist or sabotage) detonated within US borders. To prevent this, the US has very strict controls and multiple levels of security on our stockpiles. Regardless of the fact that there has not been a major civil or military nuclear incident in the US (3 Mile Island, while scary, could have been much worse) and the odds of any of us dying in a nuclear blast are much lower than the odds of driving in a car, we don’t just open our base gates, leave the weapons armed, and leave the keys to the silo in the door. We have multiple – and expensive – layers of physical and personnel security in place because of the devastation such a discharge would have. TonyA_says Anything for safety even if they have to use something unsafe like an xray back scatter scanner. Great logic! Lisa Simeone Tony, I hope you know I was being sarcastic. granana unfortunately anything that congress makes can never die. TonyA_says Ha ha ha, me, too (being sarcastic). But seriously though, I wish the TSA could help me by getting rid of the deer since they terrorize me when I drive on the Parkway or the State Highway near my house. I believe the deers cause more deaths than terrorists trying to pack bombs here. Lisa Simeone technomage: 1. “Well, it likely won’t happen to me so lets not do a thing about it. I don’t want to have to go through any hassle.” I have never said that, never implied it. Neither has Chris Elliott, Bill Fisher, Sommer Gentry, Wendy Thomson, Jennifer Abel, Bruce Schneier, nor any of the thousands of people who object to the TSA’s security theater. You’re offering a straw man argument. 2. I understand risk assessment, statistical analysis, logic, reason. Those are elements I’ve been using for years to argue on this issue, which elements TSA apologists and fear mongers refuse to acknowledge. To repeat: there is no such thing as 100% Security All The Time Everywhere. To pretend that there is, is to live in a fantasy. Many Americans like that fantasy. Doesn’t change the facts. 3. I acknowledge that every time I get in my car I could be killed. I drive anyway. I acknowledge the fact that that risk is greater than the risk that I will be killed in a terrorist attack. Also greater is the risk that I’ll be shot in this country where every goober with a grudge can get a gun. I still go outside. I still live my life. I don’t stay home cowering under the bed (which would still be more dangerous, since more people are killed by household appliances in this country every year than are killed by terrorism). 4. I choose to live my life in freedom and dignity and to take appropriate risks, not live in paranoia and succumb to hysteria. If other people want to live that way, fine; but they don’t have the right to force the rest of us to live that way, too. For all those people, they can be the ones to stay home. Let the rest of us take our chances. Lisa Simeone Tony, bravo! Indeed they do. technomage1 OK. I agree that there is no such thing as 100% safety. So what do you propose as appropriate measures regarding terrorist risk? Lisa Simeone I will repeat what I and others have said here and at TSA News Blog so many times, including in this thread: Go back to metal detectors. No scanning, no groping, no touching of any kind. In all the years before 9/11, on 9/11, and after 9/11, planes weren’t being blown out of the sky left and right. No bombs were brought on board on 9/11. There are two things that have made another 9/11 impossible (which attacks took place because of the negligence of our intelligence agencies). One, the cockpit doors have been secured. Two, passengers will no longer silently submit. That’s it. All the bullying, harassing, threatening, stripping, groping, and phony-baloney “behavior detection officers” are not only inexcusable violations, they do nothing to make us safer. They do, however, placate those credulous, fear-addled people who want to “feel” as if these things are making them safer. In other words, pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. We’re not running a nationwide therapy program here. If John and Jane Doe have problems with their “feelings,” if they’re concerned about “feeling” safe — whether they actually are or not — then they need to seek help, not support the imposition of abusive, punitive procedures on the rest of us. That’s not to say there will never be another terrorist attack anywhere in this country again. Obviously. So please nobody bring up that other straw man argument. Either we choose to live like free citizens or not. As I’ve said till I’m blue in the face, if the British had behaved like this during the Blitz, they never would’ve gotten through it. Nine months straight of bombing almost every single night. 9/11 is nothing compared to that. Yet what did they do? Got up every morning, cleared the rubble, mourned their dead, and moved on. kcreedy My vote — dead — is, perhaps, wishful thinking. Obviously the answer is to reform it. Charles, please keep the pressure on. technomage1 Actually, the Brits did a lot more during the Blitz than clean up and mourn their dead. They also took passive and active measure to mitigate the threat, including home and public bomb shelters, strictly enforced blackout measures, airstrikes against German targets, balloons with bombs on them, and fooling the German radio waves that were used to guide the planes to targets in the less populated areas of London. In sum, they did as much as they could at the time given the technology and resources that they had. If you believe that the two measures you outlined are enough to mitigate the risk that is your right. I do not. That does not mean I like getting groped at the airport or the scanning machines or that I’m the TSAs # 1 fan. I’m not. But I do believe in targeted profiling, random searches, and passive measures such as opening bags and chemical/canine sniffers. Lisa Simeone Again, I’m not arguing no threat mitigation. Obviously, old-fashioned police work, responsible intelligence, responsible threat mitigation, ahead of time, before anyone even gets to an airport, is called for. My point is the Brits didn’t overreact. They didn’t treat everyone like a potential criminal, which is precisely how the TSA is treating us. EdB The Brits didn’t start strip searching all their citizens whenever they traveled on the off chance that one of them might be a spy. This is how the TSA is acting though. Lisa Simeone Ed, exactly my point. technomage1 Which is why I suggested profiling to begin with and why I also like prescreening. And let’s not view history through rose colored lenses. Ugly things happened in WWII on both sides of the Atlantic. Japanese internment being the most well known. That’s not dogging anyone’s courage, but innocent people did suffer wrongfully the wrath or suspicion Of their own governments. Also, travel restrictions were in place via direct or indirect means (rationing meant you couldn’t travel even if you wanted to). technomage1 To me as an individual, yes. But to thousands, no. Hence why the higher security at airports vs cars. Sommer Gentry As long as you know it’s just about feeling safe and not about actually being safe. More than 95% of your risk of death when you get on an airplane is attributable to pilot error and mechanical malfunction. All that nonsense about taking your shampoo is just a sham – what would really make you safer is improved airplane maintenance, airplane hardware upgrades, and work hour restrictions / upgraded training / better air traffic control systems for pilots. But then, who lets facts rain on a good fear parade, right? Especially when feeding irrational fears helps Congress burn good money with a jobs program for the unemployable and welfare for the defense-industrial complex. Get real, PostPainter, and get a grip on the real risks in your life, because you’re far more likely to be killed by a deer or a home appliance than a terrorist. Annapolis2 Seriously, do you have to be filthy? I really don’t find this sentiment funny in the least. BMG4ME I can’t believe that someone would stop flying because of the patdowns – given that the patdowns are optional. If you really want to go to extremes to avoid the unnecessary measures then join global entry and make sure you fly from an airport with TSA Pre with an airline that is participating from that airport. I have benefited from TSA Pre twice now, once as a Platinum AA customer and once as a Global Entry card holder, it makes flying enjoyable again. I find having to take off my belt offensive and I find it inconvenient to have to take off my shoes and to remove my laptop, but it’s not going to stop me from flying and it’s not going to make me put myself through a patdown – I did it once and that was enough. jikinn It’s not always optional. My partner has two artificial hips and, therefore, always sets off the magnetometer. She has no choice but to be patted down (or to go through the backscatter machines, which I don’t trust). r Chris, I think you are being a bit naive. I agree with the other commenters who say that this hearing is just a bit of theatre. With one or two exceptions at most, our elected representatives are all in the business of increasing the size and reach of government – they are in the government business. Regardless of the nonsense they spout to their followers at election time TheBride Total sense, finally! The TSA has had the freedom to blossom into a law enforcement role. Let the “agents” go off and get jobs in local police forces and torment criminals. IDoNotBowToCommies You solve this problem by allowing civilians to bring weapons aboard — of course they’ll have to have approved ammunition. There was an old joke that Southwest Airlines would have never have been picked by the 9/11 hijackers, because they were afraid, very afraid. Its like starting something in the grocery store….in Texas. We don’t have armed robberies except in circumstances where the target would be at a disadvantage or alone. People DO pack heat here. And sometimes they do use them. IDoNotBowToCommies How do you know he was being funny. I too hate being fondled by dudes. IDoNotBowToCommies Sometimes they are NOT optional. IDoNotBowToCommies It’s all about the money. IDoNotBowToCommies What worries me is that now many of those activists have ended up on watch lists as punishment. Since we don’t know just how many people are on one, and the assumption it’s easy to put a flier on one, it’s a question the TSA won’t dare answer. Doing so would put some of their employees into PRISON. IDoNotBowToCommies Beware of what REPLACES TSA. The problem we may face is a replacement agency which will take it easy on us at the airport, but will throw 250,000 employees onto the nations trains, busses, and highway checkpoints near you. Does the work INTERNAL PASSPORT mean anything to anyone? No fly lists turning into “no pass” lists. Being confined to your home city because you can’t get a travel pass. Peter I’d like to think you’re right but government agencies have a fanatical survival instinct. To kill one would take unbelievable firepower. Jeanne Yes, you were asleep during government class. “Congress” is the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. They have no ‘jurisdiction’ over anything. The TSA is an agency within the Dept. of Homeland Security. You could have found this out by a one-minute fact check via Wikipedia, but it seems you were too busy trying to be snarky and clever instead of delivering real factual information to your readers. Karen Then you have allowed them to win by letting them alter your lifestyle and your freedom. Jeanne_in_NE This is not “me”, but another Jeanne. (Great name, by the way!). I have the blue poison dart frog avatar. That’s generally the only way I introduce anything poisonous or venomous into an online conversation. (Venomous was when I had the picture of me holding the timber rattlesnake.) bbgunplinkplink The TSA will never die. It will just ask for more money. bbgunplinkplink Support Your Local Deer Hunter! Mundane Lustrator I should not have to be “prescreened” or “approved” by the federal government to travel in my own country. Mundane Lustrator Show me where TSA has been effective in protecting anything but their own jobs. Mundane Lustrator But they aren’t ensuring our freedom of movement. Many people have stopped or severely curtailed their travel by air because they will not submit to the TSA. Instead they aren’t traveling at all or are driving, which is proven to be more dangerous than getting on a plane. Buses, trains, and other forms of mass transit are not always available. Mundane Lustrator The TSA is despised across the political spectrum. Mundane Lustrator People fly all the time for their jobs. Also, this paranoia about “Everyone’s a terrorist!!!” is exactly why the TSA exists. Mundane Lustrator Seriously? LOL! SoBeSparky My opinion is just as valid as yours, to wit: “The TSA is despised across the political spectrum.” If that were so, there would be no agency and no appropriation. Obviously it is not fact. On the other hand, prove to me your local police department protects your community. Mundane Lustrator What I said was that the TSA is despised across the political spectrum (to another commenter) because people of every political stripes have been critical the TSA. I did not say everyone does not like the TSA. SoBeSparky That is pure conjecture. By now, even an urban legend for its spread in blogs. Then contrast that to the what happened in the months immediately after 9/11. The traveling public curtailed travel for a fact. It took three full years for the airline industry to return to the level of enplanements before 9/11. Mundane Lustrator It is not conjecture. I did not make any claims to exact numbers or percentages. “Many” people have stated that they have stopped or severely curtailed their flying due to the TSA. Even taking into account that these statements are on the Internet, which means some people are not being honest, there are still “many” people who honestly have stated they are not flying due to the TSA. That is all I was saying. Mundane Lustrator But who appropriates the money for DHS, and thereby TSA? Could you have made your point without the insults? Michael__K “It took three full years for the airline industry to return to the level of enplanements before 9/11.” Enplanements numbers in 2001 and 2003 had a little something to do with recessions in those years as well as the complete air traffic shutdown in 2001. Adjusting for population growth (about 10%) we’ve had fewer enplanements per capita in recent years than we did before 9/11. http://www.faa.gov/airports/planning_capacity/passenger_allcargo_stats/passenger/media/historicalPassengerTotals.pdf You could compare us with other countries here: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IS.AIR.PSGR SoBeSparky I am quoting the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (Airline Travel Since 9/11): “In the August preceding 9/11, the airline industry experienced what was then a record high in the number of airline passengers for a given month when 65.4 million travelers took to the air. After 9/11, that number trailed off dramatically, and it took nearly 3 years, until July 2004, for the industry to match and finally surpass the pre 9/11 levels.” If I misinterpreted this, then I stand corrected. Michael__K If you’re looking at monthly numbers than I think part of the problem is that August is a high-travel month (summer vacations). SoBeSparky I think the quote speaks for itself. Michael__K Complete annual data for the U.S. and for other countries (ideally normalized against population and GDP numbers) speaks for itself too… SoBeSparky Using annual data makes little sense when an event occurs in September and we are measuring from that time point. Monthly data must be used to reflect the pre and post enplanements, even on a 12-month basis. Calendar-year data would not properly reflect the base year of 9/00 to 8/01 and years hence, 9/01 to 8/02, etc. We are talking about TSA and I fail to see the relevance of world bank statistics. What does the TSA have to do with travel from Albania or Zimbabwe? The initial conjuncture was that the TSA has reduced air travel lower than it would have been without the TSA. Of course, many factors are not accounted for in these statistics other than population and GDP such as rising business-type fares, reduced seat availability (especially at the last minute), the spread and advancement of digital communication technology, and so forth. Michael__K Makes much less sense to compare raw data for ONE peak-travel month in the midst of a growing economy with raw monthly data for off-season travel periods and recessionary periods. Lots of other countries have been threatened and attacked by al-Qaeda (see: Spain, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, Israel, Australia, India). So no need to bring up red herrings like Zimbabwe. “Factors not accounted for” like “seat availability” are in fact a direct function of the consumer demand and confidence you’re implying is reflected in the enplanement numbers. Which means it would be completely inappropriate to separately “account” for such factors. SoBeSparky No one is comparing one month. Federal statistics were moved to measure pre and post Sept. 1, 2001, not Jan. 1, 2002. Simple process. Comparable to the difference between a calendar year and a fiscal year. The discussion is about the U.S. Government TSA. Albania to Zimbabwe is A to Z in international airport statistics. No red herrings. Seat availability does not correlate closely with anything other than airline profitability. The less profitable, generally, the more planes are parked in the desert as they are currently and the fewer available seats, having nothing to do with consumer demand and confidence. See the same Bureau of Transportation Statistics article. Michael__K “No one is comparing one month.” Sorry, August 2001 is ONE month. Again, July and August are the peak travel months of the year. July/August enplanement numbers are *normally* 15+% higher than September numbers (and normally 40+% higher than February numbers and normally 15% higher than May numbers, etc…) No coincidence that the “spell” was broken in a July. “The less profitable, generally, the more planes are parked in the desert as they are currently and the fewer available seats, having nothing to do with consumer demand and confidence.” If you really believed that then you have no basis for bringing up enplanement data into this discussion in the first place.