Saturday, April 16, 2011

The perfect bag for your air travel

H/T Mark Fee

An open letter to Jason Chaffetz

Rep Jason Chaffetz takes an outspoken position on TSA abuses of Americans’ rights in airports across the nation. In 2009 – long before most Americans knew what a “scanner” was – he introduced legislation to try to block the scanner program due to the alarming lack of research and potential rights abuses. He has likened their “pat-downs” to sexual assault, has oversight of DHS since the GOP won a majority in the House, and, in that role, held a hearing (as editorialized here by Becky Akers). Just today, he issued a statement about the upsetting viral video that shows a 6-year old receiving a custodial search at the New Orleans airport. Because of his apparent interest in these matters, I am writing him this open letter. 

April 13, 2011

Dear Mr Chaffetz,

I am writing to you regarding the serious abuses occurring at the hands of federal employees across the nation: the employees of the TSA. I read your statement and letter to John Pistole regarding the recent incident of a 6-year old, Anna Drexel, being thoroughly searched by a TSA employee. In an interview with Good Morning American, Dr. and Mrs. Drexel looked as if they have been through a living nightmare. They also let us know what happened after the camera stopped rolling: little Anna broke down in tears, confused over what had just happened and why. Of course, her parents could not explain why. They do not understand this themselves, just as you, I and thousands of others who have seen the video fail to see any justification in what happened.

I can only imagine what the Drexels went through, but, as a mother myself, I can relate to their situation. I suffered through months of anxiety prior to our trip to see family for Christmas last year. After purchasing our airline tickets, I learned that scanners had been installed in all of the DC-area airports. As a professor of chemistry, I had serious misgivings about the safety of the scanners for my 1-year old, as well as for me and my husband. As a liberty advocate, I knew that the use of the scanners as primary screening without a warrant or just cause was a serious breach of our rights. As a modest person and mother, I did not wish to have me or my daughter seen naked by a stranger, and view the scanners as an egregious invasion of our privacy. I cried more than once over the prospect of having my daughter molested at the airport during our trip. I pleaded with the airline to reimburse me for the cost of the trip, but only succeeded in getting the fee waived to change our departure airport to Norfolk, VA (yes, I drove four hours to an airport to avoid the scanners). I have been tirelessly publicizing the TSA’s abuses. Suffice it to say, we will be taking the train to California next Christmas, unless, by some miracle, the scanners and pat-downs stop at BWI, DCA, and IAD.

Friday, April 15, 2011

CrewPass2 being phased in

Pilots and flight attendants are going to get a second chance to be treated better than the masses at airports. Particularly disturbing is this quote:
Details of the proposed system have yet to be worked out, but TSA officials say they plan to hook into airline employee databases and confirm the identities of pilots and flight attendants using biometric measures such as retina scans and fingerprint matching.

Lovely that the airlines are going to hand over their employee databases to the feds so cavalierly (I'm sure they already do, but maybe only some limited info? Or at least it's not so blatant?) Detailed passenger data is next, I suppose, not that our treatment will improve.

This type of collaboration is why I have taken out my anger over TSA abuses on the travel industry.

Let me add this: Of course it makes sense for pilots and flight attendants to be under less scrutiny than passengers. However, it does not follow that suspicionless searches (which are, by the way, quite invasive) should be the norm for passengers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

TSA Peeps

From the Washington Post's annual Peep diorama contest (click through for full size/full resolution):

#3: FINALIST: "TSA Agents Get a Peep Show"

#12: Pat Down the Bunny:  An Average Day at PWI-O'Hare

H/T Kristen Churchill

Boats are next

Fortunately, there are so many miles of seaboard in the US, that DHS is having a hard time controlling our every move. Of course, HuffPo resents this. Whatever happened to the principles of freedom to travel?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

6-year old's intrusive search on 'Good Morning America'

Here's the interview with the girl's parents. The anchor's comments are terrible, and I couldn't help feeling that these poor parents were holding back on fully expressing their real feelings on the matter.

UPDATE: It's official - American media has picked up the story and I am now seeing coverage in many places.

"We've done a bad job, but it's because we need more money!"

OK - that's not a direct quote. Here's the actual quote:

Transportation Security Administration managers at Newark Liberty International Airport say security has "slowly diminished" over the years.
That was one of the findings in a performance analysis obtained by The Star-Ledger of Newark that was circulated during meetings led by TSA Area Director Jim Blair on Thursday.
The newspaper reported that Newark-based managers acknowledged a series of embarrassing lapses produced what they described as "a lack of faith in our ability to provide world class security" in travelers' minds.
The report said "understaffing, complacency and lack of focus," along with a lack of direction, poor communication and checkpoint design contributed to the decline in security.
The managers proposed changes in training and accelerating hiring to boost staff to handle labor-intensive full body scanners that were installed last fall.
Here's a better idea: scrap the TSA and put airport security in the hands of the airport and airline owners who have an incentive to provide actual, customer-friendly security.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Daily Mail covers New Orleans child molestation

No word yet from Amerikan media, but the UK has picked up the story of the 6-year old girl who got a custodial search (aka "pat down") courtesy of the TSA. This will not go away. The TSA will continue these absurd abuses and continue to generate rage from those of us who care. Slowly, the sheeple will wake up.

Note that, besides my posts on LRC and here and the various murmurings on social media, blogs, forums, and YouTube, I see that Matt Drudge picked this up, too.

Airport Director can't shed TSA

This is the first time I've heard an airport director
  1. say that he does not want the TSA at his airport, and
  2. that he also doesn't want private security that is just following TSA directives.
Good for Jerry Orr of Charlotte-Douglas Airport for pointing out the obvious truth: TSA is no good, and the so-called "opt-out" is not a significantly different choice. Here's hoping that more airports start paying attention to reality!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Security is serious business"

So serious that a clown gets detained for three hours, misses her flight, and has charges pressed for assaulting an officer. What did the clown do?

"I go through the scanner and on the other end I've got a bag, a megaphone, my purse and the basket of eggs and I'm trying to put my shoes back on. This woman comes up over my shoulder and says, 'What are those?'
"Well, they are eggs filled with confetti," I said.
Go on.
"I said, 'You want to see? This one's kind of broken. You're the winner. Here we go - smash!'
"And I smacked it on her head."
Read the rest here, and don't forget to look at the inane comments, from which I got the title of this post.

H/T Boycott Flying