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Taking a Stand for Real Airport Safety

[by Geechee Girl, reprinted from Smoke Rings, Coffee Stains, with permission. Thanks Leslie.]

I’ve been pretty vocal about the new TSA “security” procedures lately and how against them I am. I’m sure the next time I fly will be be “interesting” because of it. Heck, I was vocal about it when it first started changing, right after 9/11. Ineffective smokescreens and placebos won’t keep us safe, and the more rights we give up for an illusion, the more rights we can’t get back.

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen these links already, but I thought I’d put them here as well for those that don’t. I think it is so important to be educated.

• If you do nothing else with this post, Download This Opt Out Brochure and learn the risks of the body scanners and how to opt out of them. If it comes down to being repeatedly irradiated or being groped, I’ll reluctantly choose being groped. Or drive. Or take a train.

• Participate in National Opt Out Day on November 24th, 2010. Yes, it is on the biggest travel day so it makes the biggest impact. Yes, it will cause inconvenience, just like these security measures already do. For more: National Opt-Out Day Called Against Invasive Body Scanners | Threat Level |

• Read what the University of California, San Francisco and other educated scientists and health professionals have to say about the safety (or lack thereof) and lack of testing done on these scanners

• This is an excellent and well thought-out article on how our ostrich style reaction as a nation and lack of fighting these machines and new pseudo security measures is contributing to the problem in a big way. Written by Schneier for Contemporary Engineering.

• Here is FlyerTalk’s excellent list of airports that have the scanners and new screening procedures in place, continuously updated. Hopefully the TSA won’t make them take this down. Just in case, I’ve printed it out, along with the brochure above (same reason)

• Israel’s airport has the highest risk in the world, and best safety record, with the least invasive safety procedures. Why our airport security needs to model theirs can be found in this fantastic article. They’ve been better at this for 50 years, and are appalled at how we approach the problem. My favorite part of the article was the reaction to our tendency to evacuate an entire airport at a threat instead of taking simpler containment measures.

• Some links illustrating recent fumbles by the TSA using these new screening methods against 3 year olds, rape victims, regular travelers (who opt out in the face of mal informed security details and now face huge lawsuits for no reason other than someone else’s incompetence), scanner image leaks, and sexual harassment abuses. The FlyerTalk forums linked above has many, many more stories, as does Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the web.

• A humorous shirt or two you can wear on National Opt Out Day next week can be found here.

TSA Terrifies, Too

Ron Paul weighs in on the TSA and makes total sense.

• Oh good. Now these things are in private hands as well in the form of vans. Perfect. NOT.

Well thought out post on why and how to resist the scope and instead choose the grope until we get this defeated.

• “She’s already had breast cancer and been advised not to undergo needless Xrays.”



  1. No u wrote:

    This is just the government stripping more of our freedoms away and guess what, they are going to keep doing it because americans are lazy and are willing to just take it right up the tailpipe.

    Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Permalink
  2. No u wrote:

    great israel article btw

    Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Permalink
  3. Jonah wrote:

    I’m not sure I understood what ron pauls point was. He agrees with pretty much all of us that what the TSA does is not agreeable and simply panders to “the american people”. However I don’t see where he offers a true alternative. If anything his suggestion appears to be to privatize what the TSA does now so instead of a federal employee looking at our naked pictures or touching our private parts we have a private employee.

    I think everyones wants an alternate system but the question is what? The isreali way is definitely better but is perhaps not feasible for a country that has several times more traffic through its airports.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 8:54 am | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    Yeah, but what we are doing now just isn’t working:

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 9:51 am | Permalink
  5. Jonah wrote:

    I agree everyone knows what the TSA is doing isn’t working and needs to be improved. Ron paul’s solution is to transfer a federal process into private hands without offering ways of improving the process. Its easy to criticize anything but i don’t see a solution in what he wrote.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 10:24 am | Permalink
  6. lori wrote:

    Here are a couple other funny shirts including ‘TSA gave me a happy ending’. 🙂

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 11:08 am | Permalink
  7. Iron Knee wrote:

    Lori, that link won’t work. Cafepress has over 665 items about the TSA for sale.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 11:25 am | Permalink
  8. starluna wrote:

    I have a better suggestion to the Opt-Out “protest”: Don’t Fly.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 11:36 am | Permalink
  9. Iron Knee wrote:

    A new comment on Leslie’s blog, this one from a pilot. If freakin airline pilots don’t think the new machines are making their flights any safer, doesn’t that make you think?

    I’ve been out on a trip for a few days and have been watching the security lines. Seems everybody has decided to just go through the scanner. I’ve seen no pat downs or long lines at all. Hope the 24th is different!

    Crew is now not only exempt from the new security measures but now has “crew pass” going into effect where we only show our company ID and passport to get through. We also got our Fx attndnts their own pass line which they deserved but never had, seems anything government loves to discriminate any way they can. We have been trying to get “crew pass” for ten years but it took the uproar of the Fx crew over this to make it happen.

    Point is, if your going to defeat this your really going to have to make an uproar, no more just going through the scanner. Most politicians would like to stop this but are being railroaded by TSA and DHS. If everybody takes this like cattle then they aren’t going to stop, don’t be “sheeple”! Fx crew started “opting out” right from the get go and a few brought law suits right away! We told our companies they were going to have trouble over this and told our unions to fight this.

    Now you all have to do the same. You have to make this not work for them!

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 11:39 am | Permalink
  10. Hassan wrote:

    Ron Paul is providing an alternative. (subtle hints). Although I am huge Ron Paul fan, but his solution would not make my life easy. He is suggesting private companies or airlines have much more at stake so they would do more “efficient” and “better” job and make life of people (most of them) easy. Which is basically profiling. Government can not do that (for some reason), but private companies can perhaps. So instead of stopping perfectly normal white family, only muslims would be targeted.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Permalink
  11. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    Pretty much everyone making negative comments about it that I’ve seen is in no way involved directly in the security of our country. Politicians, check. Bloggers, check. Pilots, check. Random passengers, check.

    If you don’t like it, don’t fly.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Permalink
  12. Jonah wrote:

    The TSA could be the reason high speed rail in the US takes off. At the very least it would reduce passenger traffic on planes.

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Permalink
  13. lori wrote:

    Wrong link…

    Those other tshirts were hilarious!

    Sunday, November 21, 2010 at 11:30 pm | Permalink
  14. patriotsgt wrote:

    Hassan – your thoughts about profiling are not exactly accurate. Profiling is not about race, like many make it out t be. It is about gathering a larger set of variables and one of the largest is behavioral. When an experienced investigator or law enforcement officer looks at an individual they can tell alot. They are not looking at their skin color, but their dress, mannerism’s, gait, eye contact or lack there of, odor, visible signs of distress such as palpatating jugular, sweating, twitching, etc. All these are signs or could be signs that something is not right. It’s how many swallowing smugglers are caught arriving at our airports. Our CBP (old Customs) are very good but they are completely different then TSA. You see CBP when entering the country, not TSA. We only see TSA when boarding.
    In short profiling has been turned into a dirty word, but is has and is used by virtually everyone in law enforcement to differentiate between what makes sense and what doesn’t. Racial profiling is taking only 1 of 100 possible criteria, evaluating it and making a decision on that 1 criterian alone and virtually never happens and would be very poor investigative work.

    Monday, November 22, 2010 at 6:35 am | Permalink
  15. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    Most of the pro-profiling arguments are not just saying, “use profiling,” and they aren’t saying use profiling as in serial killer profiling. Most all of what you are talking about is not profiling in any real sense of the word. They are saying, if we used racial/ethnic profiling, then we wouldn’t need all these other security things, because all terrorists are X, Y, and Z. And X, Y and Z are not signs of nervousness.

    In my mind, that is pretty stupid. The only way a profiling system like that works is if you aren’t already using it. It’s a bit like if all the terrorists were wearing red shirts. If we just x-ray’d and patted down people wearing red shirts, we’d get all the terrorists and could let everyone else through without issue.

    Monday, November 22, 2010 at 7:48 am | Permalink
  16. Patricia Andrews wrote:

    I think that profiling is problematic. It seems to me that anyone who actually wanted to do harm would do everything possible to avoid detection — what profilers are looking for always becomes public knowledge, so all a terrorist would have to do is look “normal”. That’s what the 9/11 attackers sucessfully did for years before they attacked.

    Monday, November 22, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink
  17. patriotsgt wrote:

    1032 & Patricia- I’m absolutely not advocating the use of racial profiling. Suspicious behavior and if coupled with short interviews is as good or better then both xray and pat-down combined. But it leads to the other “intrusion” people will object to and that is a hard line of questioning such as where are you coming from, why were you there, where are you going and why, where will you be staying and how long, why did you buy your ticket with cash, why do you only have 1 small suitcase with no underwear?
    Our investigators and law enforcement are good. If your up to no good (either terrorism or criminal conduct) it would be hard to fool our professionals.
    However, we have a choice. Xrays and grope downs or behavioral profiling and interviews. There are problems with both. Which will Americans prefer.

    There are also about 20 airports in the US that “opted out” of TSA and use private security and they don’t seem to have the same issues as TSA run airports nor have they had any “security” breaches or issues.

    Monday, November 22, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Permalink
  18. Patricia Andrews wrote:

    PSgt: I was not referring to racial profiling per se. The problem remains that very probably TSA employees will not have discretionary power to ask intelligent questions. As with most current business models, they will be handed a list of vetted questions that can be answered with informed lies. “Think of it as a call center on steroids” and you can see the problems that may arise.

    Monday, November 22, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Permalink
  19. Iron Knee wrote:

    PatriotSgt, I’m confused about your arguments in favor of “profiling”. You say “profiling is not about race” and in a perfect world, you would be correct. But in our imperfect world, study after study has shown that “profiling” very easily turns into “racial profiling”. Starluna even pointed out that her somewhat dark-skinned husband is signaled out pretty much every time he tries to fly.

    I don’t believe this has to be the case. Israel’s airport security is a case in point. They interview *everyone* and based on their behavior while answering questions (including things like making eye contact) they select them for further scrutiny. They also give these screeners a ton of training and pay them a good salary to keep them.

    My point is that if you hire a low wage TSA employee, and have them watch a line of people moving by and direct them to spot the ones who look “suspicious” just based on looking at them, then you *will* end up with racial profiling.

    Monday, November 22, 2010 at 6:30 pm | Permalink
  20. ebdoug wrote:

    Just after 9/11, I was coming back into the US from Canada. I watched a search of an Arab appearing person’s luggage while we waited to go through customs. I noticed the good humor of the person being searched. Recognizing that the Arabs had caused 9/11, he recognized he was going to be searched and made no complaints.

    Monday, November 22, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Permalink
  21. patriotsgt wrote:

    Patricia and IK – Your correct IK, it takes a quick questioning by a trained investigator who can simoultaneously observe behavioral changes to conduct the profiling I was referring to. CBP (legacy customs) has such talent and trained personnel. Currently they only handle those coming into the US (ie. Customs that Ebdoug referred to).
    The reson we need full body scans and pat downs is because TSA is not equipped for that level of expertise.Their employee pool is not so deep. DHS does have the required talent in CBP officers and ICE agents. Many of these people are legacy Customs and all are schooled in interviewing techniques.
    For the investogiator you cannot let race be your guiding factor. If you do you will likely miss the signs. Al Quaida will recruit non mid-eastern operatives to defeat any racial profiling attempts. Trained investigators know better and would not use one criteria as a positive indicator, they would need several to trigger a more intensive level of scrutiny. Trust me, these guys are not like TV investigators, the media or novice hacks, they are good.

    Monday, November 22, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Permalink
  22. Pleas don’t think for a second that the TSA checkpoints in airports are there for your security. Don’t you think that if the government were really concerned about keeping us safe from terrorism they would have locked up the border by now? The TSA checkpoints are for one thing and one thing only, to condition us for the police state. They record everything about you and you go in a database. It’s already been investigated, proven and broadcast on network news. They promised the photos wouldn’t be databased but then said they have to keep them in a database for ummm, security.

    Ron Paul doesn’t offer an alternative because there is no need for an alternative. It just needs to freakin’ stop. Why are Americans so ready and willing to sell their liberty and right to privacy for a promise of security that’s obviously a lie?

    I invite you to google it and find out for yourselves. We need a revolution in this country because we are on the very edge of tyranny even today.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink