Thursday, June 9, 2011

Will the 'checkpoint of the future' even work?

This ABC article is actually cynical about the TSA, which is shocking coming from the media. Most of the article covers things you already know if you've been reading my blog this week. But there was one particular factoid that the author brings up that is worth sharing:
Here's another question: Will it work? One thing to consider is that according to Interpol, there are something like 28 million stolen passports and identity cards floating around out there these days. The authorities did catch something like 40,000 people using phony documents last year, but that's not even 1 percent.

'Submit, conform, we are in charge.'

Great little essay from an opt-outer.

More on the "Checkpoint of the future"

This write-up on the atrocious checkpoints being pushed by the airlines and Pistole points out the obvious. But this line:
It's a bit Orwellian, but airport security officials nevertheless seem excited.
Should actually read:
It's a bit Orwellian, therefore airport security officials seem excited.
Let's hope the ACLU is successful in fighting this when it comes along:
This is far from the first time iris scans have been considered in the airport screening process. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security launched a pilot program that used iris scans at the Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas. Billed as a faster alternative to fingerprinting, the iris scanner checked the immigration status of detainees and stored the information in a database. The American Civil Liberties Union objected to the federal government dipping into this territory. "If you can identify any individual at a distance and without their knowledge, you literally allow the physical tracking of a person anywhere there's a camera and access to the Internet," ACLU lawyer Christopher Calabrese told USA Today.
I also like this firedoglake article pointing out the corporatist shenanigans that this whole proposal entails, and the cringe-worthy concept of "good" and "bad" citizens.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sentencing for TSA criminal

This is an update on the story from earlier this year about the TSA employees at Newark getting caught stealing from passengers: the supervisor collecting graft from the thieves will be locked up.

So much for the ports

Between this story about TSA/VIPR at a port in Texas and the story of British cruise passengers being harassed by US Customs in California, I'm starting to feel lucky that my cruise was comparatively benign!

Alaskan teleconference

I came across this letter to the editor for an Alaskan newspaper:
As someone who feels the Transportation Security Administration’s pre-flight security screenings through the use of full- body scanners (these take an X-ray and produce a detailed photo of your naked body) and the invasive “pat down” searches (which are performed if one refuses to go through a full body scan rather than a metal detector) are unacceptable, I would like to alert others in the Fairbanks community to the opportunity to be part of a national push to change TSA’s methods of ensuring travel safety.

At 9 a.m. Friday at the Legislative Information Office, Room 308, 1292 Sadler Way, Rep. Sharon Cissna, will hold another telecommunications meeting of the Alaskans Freedom To Travel USA group. For more information, call LIO at 452-4448, or email Repre Additionally, the websites and are two sites that have information concerning TSA and travel.

According to testimony at recent congressional hearings,

82 percent of Alaska communities use air as a means of getting elsewhere on the globe. It is imperative that TSA readdress the use of body scanners and pat downs as effective techniques, especially when considering privacy and health issues. TSA has already requested funding to put scanners in all U.S. airports.

Please consider joining me at the next teleconference.

CNN: Shill for government-approved sexual assault

This AOL news article is fine, but the CNN video that is embedded is appalling. Texas Senator Patrick is on message and makes all the right points. The anchor (Don Lemon), on the other hand, implies that 1) the senator wants terrorists to board planes and 2) that if the TSA responds to Texan legislation by closing airports that it would be the Senator's fault.

Newsflash, Don Lemon: what the TSA is doing is unconstitutional. It is sexual assault, so it is also just plain illegal. And, if the TSA shuts down airports rather than stop breaking the law, it is the TSA's fault. How can you call yourself a journalist when all you do is repeat the state's propaganda? How about some independence, thoughtfulness, and honesty?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

New! Improved! (And still a rights violation!)

If only security were smarter and faster, then people would shut up about their rights being violated! How disgusting. The government is not constitutionally allowed access to this type of information without a warrant. And, note that the airlines are promoting this (through the International Air Transport Association).

'Don't Touch My Junk' Rally

Texans are hoping that Gov Perry will put the anti-groping bill on the special session slate.

Maybe it's because you're brainwashed

In an article arrogantly titled, "Stop whining about TSA pat downs," a columnist states:

In fact I cannot remember one unpleasant encounter with any TSA official ever in any airport in the United States. And as a business traveler, I have been through quite a number of airports since Congress created the TSA during the Bush Administration shortly after 9/11.

Is it luck? My innocent baby face?

Maybe it's my attitude. Maybe it's because I don't go looking for trouble.

I actually think it's because you're brainwashed, following the herd off the cliff. The article continues to say how "I have always treated the TSA screeners with great respect and admiration." and the man in front of him in line the other day was not so submissive. Instead, the older man (a "geezer") was mad he had to take off his belt because - imagine this! - his belt was holding up his pants and removing it would - yes, it's true! - cause his pants to fall down. How dare he actually expect to be able to board a plane without the humiliation of having his pants fall down!

  • We must never forget 9/11
  • We must never forget 9/11
  • We must never forget 9/11
  • We must never forget 9/11
  • We must never forget 9/11
  • We must never forget 9/11
  • We must never forget 9/11
  • We must never forget 9/11
  • We must never forget 9/11
  • We must never forget 9/11
  • We must never forget 9/11
  • We must never forget 9/11
  • We must never forget 9/11
  • We must never forget 9/11
  • We must never forget 9/11
  • We must never forget 9/11
  • We must never forget 9/11
  • We must never forget 9/11

Are you ready to be a good, submissive citizen, now?

Grope and a pat-down, or opt out of both?

Seems like some airports may be getting bogged down with all of the "work" of constantly invading passengers' rights, so security is very uneven. If you go through the scanner, as I've previously reported, you may also get a grope if an "anomaly" is detected (such as a scar, chewing gum wrapper, or just a blur). However, if you opt out of the scanner, the agents may be too busy groping other passengers to grope you, too, so you may be "allowed" to just walk through the metal detector and be on your way.

I'm sure this is all part of the intentional, multi-layered, unpredictable approach, though.

(NOTE: The signage at Sea-Tac to which the author refers ("Signs posted at security checkpoints now say that those opting out "may" be subjected to a physical pat-down.") is standard bureaucratic, butt-covering fare. When I was trying to become a California resident, the instructions were very vague with a lot of "may include"'s. Of course, after you applied, you'd find out that everything on the list was mandatory.)

Call Gov Perry

I just got this in my inbox from the president of Campaign for Liberty:
Please take a moment today to call Governor Perry at (512) 463-1782. Demand he back up his speeches and stand up for states' rights by bringing up HB 41 & SB 29 during the special session of the Texas state legislature.

Make sure he knows the whole nation is watching what happens in Texas. If he allows the feds to walk all over him and Texas with some empty threats and misinterpretation of the "supremacy clause," then the TSA will have won a major victory.
Here's the full message:

A reader warns us

Sally in the comments wrote:
They are getting more aggressive on the pat downs... I blogged about it here.
Thanks, Sally!

Will a TSA union help with agent misconduct?

Well, judge for yourself. Here is a statement about the video from last week of a man's mother feeling molested by an agent, by the union that hopes to represent TSA employees:

According to John Gage, president of the American Federation of Government Employees — which hopes to represent the Transportation Security Administration — the American reaction to the TSA is a result of a lack of information available to the general public regarding the necessity for such stringent procedures:
This absence of information has resulted in a backlash against the character and professionalism of TSOs based on a few widely reported but largely ill-founded claims repeated over and over agan by the media. Like all Americans, TSOs deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. These men and women are as the first line of defense against those who seek to harm this country.

Our fear has gone way too far

I received a request from these boys' mother to share photos of her sons being treated like suspects in a dangerous crime. Of course, this happened at the airport (there are more if you click through to the link):

The boys are 15 and 16 years old, respectively. They did not want their mother to make a scene, but she refused to let them get irradiated in a scanner and compromised by requesting a private screening and snapping photos of the process. She tells me she is infuriated when she looks at the pictures - as well she should be!

Pistole wants our money

Of course, the head of the TSA must do his duty and press Congress for more funds (to intrude on more of our Constitutional rights!). So, last week, Pistole made such a plea. Mostly, it's standard bureaucratic fare. However, to save you from reading this propaganda, I can highlight some things he said.

...I'd be surprised if naked scanners showed up anytime soon. Such a move would be most likely if the federal government started mandating scanners and/or providing grants to buy scanners. 
Well, Pistole's statement specifically talks about federal grants for security, albeit for ground transportation:
In the surface transportation arena, we continue to work with our law enforcement and security partners to reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen resilience against a terrorist attack. TSA works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency Grants Program Directorate to direct federal grants to the most at-risk transit properties.
  • With the funding for this year, the TSA will be able "to screen an estimated 60 percent of passengers" using naked scanners. If Congress gives TSA the additional money for scanners for next year (which the House has so far scratched), this number increases to 80% of passengers. What this means is scanners will get harder and harder to avoid, even if the next round of purchases don't get approved by Congress.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Update on the Wikihow article

A few months ago, I blogged about a featured article on Wikihow that sadly explained to sexual assault victims how to be submissive at airport checkpoints. I'm happy to say that a number of thoughtful people have since changed that article, substantially and for the better. You can see the original text of the Wikihow article in my original post. Here's what is says now:

Miss Airport calendar

Nothing like a Rapiscan pinup calendar to keep you organized!

Crude TSA behavior leads to crude parodies

This is a video from awhile back that I just found. Funny idea, but pretty offensive follow-through. Then again, how do you parody something that views people naked and feels them up as a matter of procedure?

NB: Bad language and crude jokes

St. George airport in Southern Utah

It's safe for now.

Fugitives in their own country

This woman had to unpin her money from her bra strap (where she keeps it since she is too disabled to rely on a purse or pocket) after the "anomaly" was picked up by a naked scanner, causing here to feel like a "fugitive" and also to reveal more skin than is reasonable. I gasped aloud later in this interview when the woman said that she always has to remove her neck brace (!) when going through security. Scroll down for comments from the young woman who filmed this and put it on YouTube this weekend.

El Paso, Texas. - I didn't know this lady, but I ended up going with her her to the bathroom and helping her get her money pinned back on her bra. To get her money back to where she wanted it, she had to take off both shirts and lower her bra straps. I know TSA had to see quite a bit of her.

I had told her earlier that she looked pretty and she said she had felt pretty when she left the house, but after the pat down she didn't feel pretty anymore.

This elderly lady was made to remove her neck brace, get out of her wheelchair, go into a private room and partially disrobe after a body scan. She said she got two pat downs.

El Paso TSA makes everyone go through the body scanners.

H/T Bill Fisher

Taking gifts from children

An article at explains.

Explosives detection

It's holding up the TSA screening of golf bags at one airport. Here's my take on it over at

Sunday, June 5, 2011

(Some) Alaskans are getting the wool pulled over their eyes

(I personally know some Alaskans who are not, though!)

Alaskans got to have a roundtable discussion with the TSA regarding their policies, and it seems to have worked for some. The TSA has been "listening" for months and years, but their policies only become more oppressive. New flash, Alaskans: nothing is going to change (and here's some info on the terrible "risk-based security" that won you over only because they were vague on the details).

Extra pat-downs

I missed this story from March: A woman at LaGuardia airport claims she cleared security, but was given an invasive pat-down anyway.

This is not at all surprising, but we must keep publicizing these abuses if only to point out the obvious and inevitable.