TSA pulls the pornoscanners

TSA has announced that it is removing all the remaining pornoscanners from the nation’s airports.

However, replacement scanners will be put in place. The replacement scanners will not display a clear body image, but will rely on displaying avatars. So they are more private, but not necessarily any safer or effective. And even worse, the TSA says that the pornoscanners will not be mothballed, but rather will be moved to other government facilities “that might not require the same level of privacy called for in a crowded airport.” I suggest that they be put to use in all offices of the TSA, beginning with the headquarters of the TSA.

Wear a t-shirt, lose your seat

From Jonathan Turley comes yet another TSA story. It seems that a passenger was wearing a t-shirt that mocked the TSA. The TSA and/or Delta Airlines blocked the passenger and he wife from flying because they said the t-shirt made TSA and Delta employees “uncomfortable.”

The shirt logo makes a play on the TSA’s logo, with the eagle holding untied shoes and pouring out a bottle of liquid. Around the seal, it says, “Bombs ZOMG/ZOMG terrists,” and “Gonna kill us all ZOMG ZOMG alert level bloodred run run take off your shoes moisture.” (“ZOMG” means “Oh my God”.)

Here is the story from the passenger’s point of view.

Needless to say there are free speech issues involved, and examination of why the TSA or a common carrier can block US citizens for rudeness is needed immediately.

Americans are as likely to be killed by their own furniture as by terrorism

Last year, a total of seventeen U.S. civilians were killed by terrorists.

According to the report, the number of U.S. citizens who died in terrorist attacks increased by two between 2010 and 2011; overall, a comparable number of Americans are crushed to death by their televisions or furniture each year.

Comparatively, ladders pose a staggering risk to the safety of Americans, claiming 300 lives each year, while drunk driving claimed over 10,000 lives in 2010.

TSA quote of the day

So finally an actual plot has been foiled, a real-live bomb has been kept off a plane, and what role was played by the TSA? None.

In fact, the Christian Science Monitor reports that, “It was not clear whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected” the Underwear Bomb 2.0. And speculation has been revived that al-Qaeda is working on bombs implanted in the wannabe martyrs’ bodies.

In other words, the next (as Janet Napolitano calls it) “little ping” on your privates will be completely pointless. The terrorists have already beaten the system.

But that’s been the problem from the beginning: You can’t beat the terrorists by playing defense. Forget the fact that the TSA didn’t stop this bombing. Can you name a bomb plot they have foiled?

* * *

So why do we treat every passenger like an al-Qaeda suspect? Why do we as citizens put up with it?

I love how the reaction to this new, undetectable bomb from TSA supporters has been “This proves we should be abusing passengers even more!” The answer for their uselessness and stupidity is more useless stupidity.

Michael Graham, countering the TSA calls for even more offensive, ineffective airport security in the face of the fact that TSA had no part whatsoever in the undercover work that turned up the plot.

The latest TSA “terrorist”

The latest victim of TSA abuse is a 7 year old girl with cerebral palsy and developmental disabilities.  After reviewing the situation, the TSA declared that nothing was done inappropriately.

“TSA has reviewed the incident and determined that our officers followed proper screening procedures in conducting a modified pat-down on the child,” the agency said.

So much for “TSA Cares.”

Four year old terrorized by TSA

The TSA is at it again.

“When my Four-year-old daughter noticed her Grandmother, she excitedly ran over to give her a hug, as children often do,” Michelle Brademeyer wrote in a lengthy Facebook post detailing the ordeal. “They made very brief contact, no longer than a few seconds. The Transportation Security Officers(TSO) who were present responded to this very simple action in the worst way imaginable.”

According to Brademeyer, a TSO “began yelling” at Izzy and ordered her to wait for a pat-down. She was prevented from approaching her mother, and told to “come to them, alone, and spread her arms and legs.” Frightened, Izzy screamed “I don’t want to” and bolted. She was returned to the security area, but not before a TSO threatened to shut down the airport and cancel all flights if Izzy was not restrained.

And check out this one.

It takes one to know one

Kip Hawley, head of the TSA from July, 2005, to January, 2009, has an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal that is worth a full read. He admits that the current airport security operation is broken and he offers his suggestions for reform, including allowing knives, liquids and lighters onto aircraft. A breath of fresh air from a (former) regulator.


More than a decade after 9/11, it is a national embarrassment that our airport security system remains so hopelessly bureaucratic and disconnected from the people whom it is meant to protect. Preventing terrorist attacks on air travel demands flexibility and the constant reassessment of threats. It also demands strong public support, which the current system has plainly failed to achieve.

The crux of the problem, as I learned in my years at the helm, is our wrongheaded approach to risk. In attempting to eliminate all risk from flying, we have made air travel an unending nightmare for U.S. passengers and visitors from overseas, while at the same time creating a security system that is brittle where it needs to be supple.

Any effort to rebuild TSA and get airport security right in the U.S. has to start with two basic principles:

First, the TSA’s mission is to prevent a catastrophic attack on the transportation system, not to ensure that every single passenger can avoid harm while traveling. Much of the friction in the system today results from rules that are direct responses to how we were attacked on 9/11. But it’s simply no longer the case that killing a few people on board a plane could lead to a hijacking. Never again will a terrorist be able to breach the cockpit simply with a box cutter or a knife. The cockpit doors have been reinforced, and passengers, flight crews and air marshals would intervene.

Second, the TSA’s job is to manage risk, not to enforce regulations. Terrorists are adaptive, and we need to be adaptive, too. Regulations are always playing catch-up, because terrorists design their plots around the loopholes.