Don't like the way airport screeners are doing their job? You might not want to complain too much while standing in line.
Arrogant complaining about airport security is one indicator Transportation Security Administration officers consider when looking for possible criminals and terrorists, CNN has learned exclusively. And, when combined with other behavioral indicators, it could result in a traveler facing additional scrutiny.
And so the TSA adds First Amendment free speech rights to the ever-growing list of Constitutional rights we're expected to forfeit in order for the TSA to conduct its security theater:
"Expressing your contempt about airport procedures -- that's a First Amendment-protected right," said Michael German, a former FBI agent who now works as legal counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union. "We all have the right to express our views, and particularly in a situation where the government is demanding the ability to search you."
"It's circular reasoning where, you know, I'm going to ask someone to surrender their rights; if they refuse, that's evidence that I need to take their rights away from them. And it's simply inappropriate," he said.
BTW, you have been following the TSA pat down of that six year old child, haven't you? Well, add an 8 year old boy to the list. If you or I handled kids the way these TSA thugs do, we'd end up on a sex offender list, as well we should. But TSA agents get to do it without any repercussions. What does that teach kids? That people in uniforms are allowed to grope them and the kid can't do anything? Appalling.
TSA Administrator John Pistole today disclosed that intelligence information was obtained on Dec. 23, 2010 that Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was seeking to make a bomb using insulated drinking mugs and thermoses, leading to the extra check in security lines over the holiday.
Pistole also advised the public to expect additional screening if they travel with the thermal mugs and thermoses.
“In the near future if you want to take your thermos with you just be aware that your going to be subject to more physical screening," the TSA head said today.
Why doesn't the f*cking TSA just make us all fly naked?
I'm going to be traveling a lot this spring (grumble, grumble) and I'm planning on taking my iPad instead of a laptop on some of the trips. This poses the question of how to easily access my work files using an iPad. Unfortunately, I don't have room on my iPad for all the files and, of course, there's the little problem of not having a useful file manager. (BTW, any advice on choosing a file manager app?)
I'm guessing the easiest thing to do would be to open a Dropbox account, sync my work files with Dropbox, and use the Dropbox app to access the files I need on the road. I understand you can download the files to edit on your iPad although not upload them back to Dropbox. Right? In any case, I'm open to alternate suggestions.
On a related note, I've been told that TSA has changed its policy and is now making people remove the iPad from their briefcase when going through security. True?
And, yes, for those who know me well, I am dreading going back on the road. I hate flying. I hate hotels. It's going to suck.
I think one difference between being ruled and being governed is that rulers exempt themselves from the rules that apply to their subjects. With that in mind:
Cabinet secretaries, top congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially with government-approved federal security details.
Aviation security officials would not name those who can skip the controversial screening, but other officials said those VIPs range from top officials like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and FBI Director Robert Mueller to congressional leaders like incoming House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who avoided security before a recent flight from Washington's Reagan National Airport.
It's not that I think Boehner is a security risk (<LAME ATTEMPT AT HUMOR>Of course, Pelosi's a different matter</LAME ATTEMPT AT HUMOR>). It's just the frakking principle of the thing.
Kevin Drum has posted what he calls an anti-rant about TSA. I have a lot of respect for Kevin. He's far to my left, but he's thoughtful and usually has to say besides just scoring political points. But not this time.
Kevin opens with:
I hate the TSA screening process. Everyone hates the TSA screening process. You'd be crazy not to. It's intrusive, annoying, and time-wasting. It treats us all like common criminals even though most of us are just ordinary schlubs trying to get on a plane and go somewhere.
But guess what? The fact that you personally are annoyed — you! an educated white-collar professional! — doesn't mean that the process is idiotic. I've heard it called "security theater" so many times I'd be rich if I had a nickel for each time it popped up in my browser, but although the anti-TSA rants are often cathartic and amusing, they've never made much sense to me. All the crap that TSA goes through actually seems pretty clearly directed at improving the security of air travel.
He then proceeds with a Q&A. For example:
Q: Why do we have to take our shoes off?
A: To prevent terrorists from packing explosives into their shoes and bringing down an airplane.
Q: Why do we have to go through those new body scanners?
A: To prevent terrorists from packing explosives around their bodies and bringing down an airplane. ...
Q: But other countries don't do all this stuff.
A: That's because Islamic terrorists mostly target American planes. It's fine for Switzerland to be a little less cautious, not so fine for us.
As Doug Mataconis observed, however:
Abdulmutallab boarded his flight to Detroit in Amsterdam, so these enhanced screening procedures would have done nothing to stop him from getting to the United States, and that remains true for vast numbers of foreign terrorists who could theoretically carry out an attack on an American airliner without ever stepping foot on American soil. Richard Reid boarded his flight to the United States in Paris, for example, and the attack on Pan Am Flight 103 took place without a single terrorist entering the United States. In that case, the explosives that brought the plane down over Lockerbie, Scotland were put on the plane in Germany. Neither the attempted attacks by Richard Reid or Adbulmultallab, nor the successful attack on the Pan Am airliner, would have been prevented by screening procedures in the United States. So, forcing American travelers to undergo invasive security procedures doesn’t necessarily accomplish anything.
Then Kevin opines that:
Q: The Israelis don't do all this stuff either. Why not adopt their methods?
A: Because even experts don't think we could scale up the Israeli system for use in the United States. What's more, the Israeli system is only convenient for Israeli Jews. It's a huge pain in the ass for everyone else.
Crapdoodle. Everybody knows El Al security includes racial and ethnic profiling. So we can't use it in the USA because profiling would violate the civil liberties of those who get profiled. And that's how it should be, for both prudential and moral reasons. But instead we have a system that violates everybody's civil liberties. Excuse me for preferring a system in which nobody's civil liberties get violated.
Then Kevin decides to play politics:
For seven years, Republicans insisted that every security procedure ever conceived was absolutely essential to keeping the American public safe, and anyone who disagreed was practically rooting for an al-Qaeda victory. Now a Democrat is in office and suddenly they're outraged over some new scanners.
Just for the record, this Republican was blogging about how bad the TSA sucks as long ago as 2006. I'm guessing I'm not alone.
In sum, I expect better of Kevin. I'd have hoped that he would agree with those of us who believe that those who give up liberty to get a little safety deserve and ultimately will not get either. And I'd have hoped that he would have seen this as an opportunity for people on all sides of the political debate to stand up and say "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore." It's a chance to recover some liberty and basic human dignity in a modern world that constantly chips away at them.
Sadly, I find myself disappointed on both scores.
Doug Mataconis thinks President Obama is "being incredibly non-responsive to the concerns that people have raised about procedures that many consider to be incredibly invasive":
In the face of outrage over Americans being groped by TSA agents, children being man-handled in a bizarre procedure that makes no logical sense, and people being exposed to the humiliation of having prosthetic breasts removed or being covered in their own urine, Obama’s “Too bad, you’ve gotta do it anyway” response is a sign of how far removed from reality the Presidency makes a person. If the President or members of his family had to subject themselves to TSA screening on a regular basis, one would think his opinion on the matter w0uld be quite different.
I continue to believe that the best way to handle the controversy would be for the Obamas--all of them, including the kids--to have to go through a public pat down.
Megan McArdle posted a Dear John letter to her airlines:
But don't feel too bad. It's not you, it's me. Or rather, it's the TSA.I'm not going to lie. It's come between us. If I have to let someone else see me naked in order to be with you--well, I'm just not that kinky. And deep down, I don't think you are either. I think it's the TSA making you act like this. Frankly, you haven't been the same since you started running around together.But I can't put all the blame on them. I think you went along because you thought I had to have you--that I couldn't live without you. That no matter what you did, I'd stay. And it's true, you had a pretty strong hold on me. Took away the food, and I still loved you--who wanted to eat a terrible, fattening meal anyway? Narrowed the distance between the seats, and still I stayed, using my airline miles to upgrade to first class. Charge me for baggage? I'm an economics writer--I love unbundled products. So I can see where you got the idea that I'd stick by you no matter what.
But the kinky stuff is just a bridge too far. I'm not saying I'll never see you again: we can still meet up for a drink, or even a quick weekend trip to California. But our days are a regular item are through....
If it's under 500 miles, I'll do anything rather than hop on a plane. And if it's over 500 miles, it had better be way over . . . or I'd better be carrying a cooler with a still-beating heart in it.
I just agreed to give a speech at a convention in Las vegas in February ... and I'm going to drive. Partly because flying really aggravates my back problems, but also because I'm going to opt out of flying whenever possible until the TSA backs off the x-ray or grope choice.