Thursday, December 23, 2010

A miniscule victory

Word is that Congress may actually do something about the TSA overstepping its bounds. Don't expect too much, though. Like airport security, it is likely to be a lot of theater. Ron Paul's bill to make TSA agents culpable will be helpful in bringing down morale and breaking the organization from the inside out. It's even possible that Jason Chaffetz's oversight of DHS will play out well - he authored the "Chaffetz amendment" prohibiting TSA scanners before there was a public outcry over them Of course, his amendment failed, which is why Congress is to blame for the TSA abuses and I am not hopeful that much will change.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The safest plane last Christmas

Apparently, there is hope that a significant number of airplanes each day that have an armed citizen to protect us. For instance, last Christmas (year of the underbomber), a law-abiding oil executive forgot to remove his loaded Glock from his laptop bag when he went to the airport. Poor, overworked TSA agents... it's so hard to sit in front of a computer monitor all day and try to detect guns. That's why they need more power, of course. Invading our privacy is the only way to keep us free and safe!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

If flying is "a privilege," what about public transportation?

To all of the commenters (here and elsewhere) who say that those of us who are anti-scanner should stop flying and shut-up, because it's a privilege for us to be allowed to complete a lawful private contract we made with an airline: do you think it's in line with the Constitution to have random searches on buses and trains?

As I wrote over at
A couple of years ago, there were threats of random searches of bags for DC Metro train riders (a la NYC and Boston), but I never heard anything more. Today, the TSA started random checks of customers’ bags and this apparently affects both the rail and bus lines for the DC area. It’s good to hear an uproar about this on the MSM, as they point out that there are petitions being filed against this action. But the quotes from the Metro officials are status quo:
“It’s good to vary your security posture,” he said, noting that transit agencies in New York, New Jersey and Boston have successfully carried out random checks.

The screening will be conducted before passengers pay to enter the rail system or board a bus, and customers who refuse the inspections will be “free to leave,” Taborn said. But there is a possibility that those who decline screening will be questioned.
Translation: We like to keep law-abiding citizens on their toes. And if they show resistance to this tyranny by peacefully walking away, we reserve the right to make their lives miserable.

Medical notification cards

This is just silly. The TSA has created special medical notification cards so that people with various medical issues can convey their needs or concerns to a TSO in advance of being screened. This new bureaucratic measure has been implemented in response to the sad story of a cancer survivor with a colostomy bag ending up covered in urine because the jerk feeling him up did not care to listen to the passenger's pleas to be careful.

One of the funniest quotes here is:
Some doctors, patient advocacy groups and medical-equipment suppliers created their own notification cards and letters long before the TSA's new stricter security screening rules and enhanced pat-downs went into effect. But Linda Aukett of United Ostomy Associations of America  said: “Some TSOs (transportation screening officers) responded with ‘Don’t bother showing me that paper. Everyone has a printer. You could have forged that letter.’ So that had a lot to do with the TSA coming up with its own card.”
What forgery is the TSO concerned about? It's just a note to privately explain a medical condition!

And, as one of the commenters on this article said:
If the screener cannot understand the spoken words, why do you think he/she could understand the written ones.
I can't see how these ridiculous cards seem like a good idea to anyone. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Local protest in Austin

Austin is slated to get scanners at their airport sometime in the next year, but local residents are trying to stop it. Let's hope they succeed!

Commission opposes ABIA body scanners: