I think the TSA, as a government bureaucracy offshoot from the Department of Homeland Security is pretty much a collective group of controlling jackholes. And you know what? We're bigger idiots for letting it happen. First of all, and let's get this off our chests up-front, if you want to do airport security effectively, then you need look no further than how the Israelis have implemented security at Ben Gurion International Airport which is, according to this Wiki article, one of the most-heavily secured airports in the world.
And how they implement security is simple: they use intelligent people to look, examine, evaluate and question everyone coming into the airport. All you have to do is google this topic and you'll turn up, literally, hundreds of articles like this one. So, obviously, people in this country are away of how to run an airport effectively, but they still choose not to. Why?
Last week, the media and blogsphere were all a-twitter with the news from a Tennessee pilot who got fed up with being abused by TSA employees and actually had the nuts to refuse to enter a full-body scanner on the grounds that it was a violation of his personal privacy and that he would not be, quoting here: "harassed or molested without cause" just for going to work.
Remember back in the beginning when the TSA announced that images would not be stored, saved or retrieved? If that were true, then it takes some of the impact from the stance of violation of privacy. But, no, it was revealed in August by the US Marshalls Service that they had secretly saved tens of thousands of recorded images.
And the TSA is taking away your choice, in passive-aggressive kind of way, to decline the full-body scan. Recently, in Chicago, a woman tried to decline the scan on the basis of being pregnant and that the long-term effects of the scan are unknown. A completely rational request but the TSA agents forced her through the scanner anyway. Others are taking up the challenge of resisting full-body scans and requesting pat-down searches -- most are met with hostility and aggression.
Then, there's the issue of what constitutes pornography and how it applies to children. A man recently published an open-letter to the Walt Disney corporation asking how they expected him to take his children (ages 12 and 14) cross-country for a dream vacation when they are forced with making one of two choices: either exposing their genitalia (pictures are clear enough to reveal whether or not a man is circumcised) or subjecting them to an intrusive, rubber-gloved search.
His comments are valid, his desire to protect his children, honorable.
Side bar: how can a "trained" TSA agent tell if someone is a terrorist by looking at naked pictures? Were the metal-detectors really that ineffective?
Look, the TSA has collectively been accused of a lot of things, but being a think-tank isn't one of the options. These are the people who still think that you taking off your shoes is a security measure.
Well, here's a secret. It's not. It's a control measure.
I'm limited to bringing on four-ounces of liquid anything onto a plane. My degree isn't in chemistry, but I'm pretty sure someone could figure out how to make a binary agent, or a mechanical one, that would be sufficient to decompress an air cabin. Just saying.
What the TSA is about is theatre. Pure and simple. It's job-justification for folks that have little or no training - and I feel I am justified in saying that based on the typical reactions you get whenever some citizen has the gall to ask a TSA agent a question.
A couple years ago, I was stopped at security because the TSA agent there recognized the kubotan as my keychain. I wasn't permitted to proceed through the gate because I was carrying a "martial arts weapon". I had to surrender it for destruction or not board - those were my choices. I turned to the agent and pulled a bic-pen out of my pocket and showed it to her. I asked her: "Assuming that I've received enough martial arts training to know how to effectively use one of those, what's the difference between that piece of plastic and this piece of plastic?"
She sneered at me, and waved the kubotan in my face, "this one is a weapon!".