TSA Doesn’t Take Security Seriously

Via Boing Boing, it appears that more than one TSA screener didn’t know that Washington, D.C. was part of the United States. The Boing Boing article about this is very good. The story isn’t important because “yuk, yuk, that guy’s dumb!” Rather, the fact that multiple TSA screeners don’t know geography means that the security precautions we’re told are essential to preventing terrorism aren’t necessary:

The real problem with this kind of dunderheadedness is that it makes it clear that the whole TSA rigmarole is just a pointless, humiliating, expensive dumbshow. If a TSA screener doesn’t have the basic smarts to know that DC is part of the USA, it calls into question his ability to make good judgments about anything. Either terrorism is an existential threat to America, in which case the TSA checkpoints should be staffed by highly skilled crackerjacks, or it’s not a big deal, in which case, we should be keeping our shoes on and flying with as much hair gel as we can carry. But saying that a single aviation attack is the end of America as we know it, and acting like it’s a small enough risk that we can staff checkpoints with dimbulbs makes you wonder if this isn’t about civil service empire-building, government contractor pork, and a general contempt for the American public, and not about terrorism at all.

The TSA’s efficacy is questionable, considering the amount it spends on porno-scanners that can be easily defeated and the installation of which may be the result of sweetheart deals between the manufacturers and TSA officials.


  1. If this is just going to Mark W., well, he’s heard it before or some variation thereon. Still …
    * As often stated, what you have at airport check points is mainly theater, plus a filter for really incompetent terrorists, plus ways of having US checkpoints where justice system agents can nab a few additional incompetent criminals with only limited Constitutional niceties. (In a better world, the TSA agent would see that what looked like C4 was only a kilo of cocaine, apologize for any mess, and wish you a good day as you proceeded to the gate.) It would be kind of comical except for the costs in terms of civil liberties and the quality of life — and increased anxiety that I feel seeing that we now have the occasional heavily-armed Merc-sorts walking through Amtrak stations. (For a number of reasons, I’m flying only when I really, really have to.)
    * In a better world than ours, there’d be different lines at airports based on matters other than wealth and willingness to pay for a bit more dignity. I’d like the line to planes where the doors to the cockpit are heavy and locked and not opened until the flight has landed (with some provisions for the real flight crew’s unprecious bodily fluids and semisolids). And planes where the passengers are told, “The rules have changed: please *do* resist hijackers and.” Okay, and scanning luggage for bombs, with that provision that *only* bombs and such are being searched for w/o warrants, plus no fair arresting fugitives identified with TSA (mit ein 1950s war-movie German accent) “Show me your papers.” (I was once asked, “Would you want to sit next to a wanted murderer?!” and answered, “Yeah, actually: he’d tend to be quiet and unobtrusive.)

    We need some compassionate and sensible working out of the Cold Equations of time lost and cost/benefit analysis of TSA: the toll of “little murders” from our security fetishes may outweigh lives saved.

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