Saturday, August 13, 2011

The hassle of flying

Eventually, the airlines will feel the pain as more and more people just decide it's not worth it to fly (this time, as much, or ever). Here's one more person who's joining the club.

Nothing like making a deal with the devil...

... just to support local jobs. Another re-published TSA press release about the cartoon-image naked scanners appears in a Tampa Bay, Florida paper. With a twist:
L-3 Communications, a huge defense contractor headquartered in New York, assembles the ProVision millimeter wave machines in a plant just off Interstate 275 in St. Petersburg. The facility employs about 230 workers.

TSA agents have rights, too

Don't you feel bad for them? Here's a short blog post by someone who notes how there is a sign at airports that discourages free speech.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Wool pulled over his eyes

Noah Schachtman has a column on Wired that references a subscription-only column in the Wall Street Journal. And it's just plain silly. For example:
Clearly, Schneier had figured out some way of getting into TSA administrator’s head. The man was some kind of Charles Xavier type.
Or maybe — just maybe — Pistole, after a year on the job, was finally feeling comfortable enough at the administration to make the changes he’s been itching to implement from the start.
The first paragraph there is supposed to be obviously ridiculous. It's not that Schneier is telepathic. So is Schachtman then saying that the next paragraph is a likely scenario? Give me a break! If Pistole were not comfortable in the administration, he would have sat back and let the TSA continue on autopilot for awhile. Instead, he actively requested money for more naked scanners from Congress, actively promoted the "enhanced pat-downs" that leave passengers feeling molested, and has repeatedly appeared on TV not-apologizing for one abuse after another.

Scanners in Europe

The EU has approved the use of scanners, with more stipulations than the US considered. After some testing, German police claim there is too high a false positive rate for scanners they've been testing. Apparently, European leaders have slightly more sense than the TSA and Congress. But only slightly.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The concession: Kids keep their shoes on

A mom writes of her interaction with airport security and having to remove her 14-month-old's shoes. I can't say I admire her when she so blindly accepts the "need" for TSA and absurd procedures, but only draws a line (sorta) when they become too absurd. But, anyway, she points out that part of the special new procedures at Boston Logan, where SPOT is being tested, is that kids under 12 won't have to remove their shoes.

Be gracious to your overlords, peons, for they have listened and are so compassionate that your youngest children can wear their shoes.

TSA checks your ID, but what about their own?

This is why no amount of "smart" security ideas will ever make the TSA more effective or less invasive. It's a (rogue) government bureaucracy:

Two examples:
  • In one instance, an applicant had three active badges at three different airports and three different countries of birth—the United States, the United Kingdom and Ukraine—listed on his various applications. Although he is a U.S. citizen, all of his applications contained copies of his passport, which states the U.K. as his place of birth.
  • In 2007, customs officials conducted a search at one major airport and arrested 23 workers with unauthorized airport access. The search also turned up more than 100 temporary employees who possessed fraudulently obtained airport security badges.

Updo backlash?

This columnist at Jaunted thinks so:
I can feel Adiele's pain. After going through the full body scanner at the San Diego International Airport last Wednesday, I was also pulled aside and asked to wait until a female TSA agent was available to go through my hair. What? I chose to go through the scanner so I wouldn't have someone touch me, but in the end, I was still going to have a stranger fondling my hair?  ...
My guess is after being accused of racially profiling Adiele, the TSA will be checking more and more buns and braids to prove they aren't racist. So, you may want to keep your hair down until you actually board your next flight, or at least brace yourself for a possible updo pat-down.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Akers on SPOT

Another great column from Becky Akers titled, "Now the TSA wants to interrogate us, too."

Akers on 'chalk outlines,' then and now

Good point from Becky Akers today. She dug up TSA defenses of the naked scanners, in which they were called "chalk outlines" and compares it to the new (improved?) chalk outlines being produced by the software upgrade. To find out what else she says, click on through.

Millimeter-wave scanners coming to Sydney

This isn't the most clearly-written article, but it appears that a trial just started with a cartoon-image scanner at Sydney airport in Australia. Furthermore:
The trial is voluntary, however [federal transport minister] Albanese said post trial it would “absolutely” become compulsory because aviation security was “not optional”.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

More 'flying is a privilege' tripe

A Boston Herald editorial has this choice line:
And to the civil libertarians who whine about the potential for privacy violations or profiling, well, feel free to avoid the airport.
 We now live in a world where pointing out how a policy enacted by a rogue agency conflicts with our natural rights, as reinforced in the country's founding documents, is "whining." And, nevermind about that whole freedom of movement thing that has been upheld numerous times by the Supreme Court as a constitutional right: you're free to move as long as you use the types of transportation that your betters insist upon!

Silly interview of TSA

The Trusted Traveler and cartoon-image scanners are being installed at some Florida airports, so a diligent, Floridian reporter did what nearly all journalists do these days. He threw softball questions to the TSA to answer with zero followup. There's really nothing interesting in the interview, since it's just the same propaganda that has been in TSA press releases and being parroted by the media as if it is news. But, there's this one really funny answer from the TSA:
Q: After a trusted traveler departs Miami and flies to another city, can that person get into an express line to fly home?

A: Yes, but only if that city is Dallas. Similarly, a Delta passenger who departs from Atlanta can get into an express lane only in Detroit on the return trip.
Reminds me of Mr. Ford's quip that you can request the Model T in any color, as long as it's black!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Taking a pregnant diabetic's insulin

Another stupid story courtesy of the TSA:

The Colorado woman, who hasn't been identified by name, told 7News that TSA agents at Denver International Airport told her that her insulin and ice packs were "at risk for explosives," even though the insulin was correctly labeled and accompanied by the required note. She adds, "When I started asking for names of people, everybody scattered even more and left me crying at the TSA checkpoint." She says she was able to take a half a vial of insulin through security because agents didn't find it, which makes the whole thing even more depressing — according to her story, the agents weren't even effective in their needless confiscation.
The agency, however, tells a different story. They've apologized, but they also say they never took the insulin: says spokeswoman Pat Ahlstrom, "We talked to all of our people and they didn't touch her insulin." Gosh, it sure is reassuring to know that a federal-level security kerfuffle can be reduced to finger-pointing.
 But, tell me, why is everyone so easily manipulated by TSA press releases? This article, despite its good start, devolves into propaganda of how the masses should be grateful because cartoon images will be used on the naked scanners and SPOT is somehow less invasive of our rights.

UPDATE: Fox is reporting that the TSA claims they only took her ice pack because it was not completely frozen. When I last flew with my daughter, I had to bring a full day's worth of food for both of us, which included milk for her. I had bags of ice in there that had obviously melted somewhat by the time I got to security. I wasn't sure if this would be a problem - and it wasn't - but just step back for a second and think about if this makes sense on a human level. Yes, I know from the viewpoint of "I'm scared the ter'ist will get me," it makes total sense to have people fly barely clothed and without any carry-ons. But, in real life, people are traveling - sometimes spending all day getting to their destination - and need basic things to get through their day. Avoiding food poisoning and keeping critical medications stable are such basic things. There is no humanity in government-run airport security.

Protest in Florida ignored by local law enforcement

Despite the presence of Sheriff Mack, pointing out that local law enforcement has a duty to protect citizens from federal intrusions on individual rights, the local Sheriffs in Volusia County, Florida, ignored a protest last week.

Backscatter vans: Coming to a street near you

I read about these types of devices when I first started this blog. The idea is that governments can scan vehicles for contraband. Aside from one report on a VIPR search at a truck stop, I have not heard much about the deployment of these scanners. Apparently Forbes covered a company that is making these machines, and The Truth About Cars has a good write-up about it. The scary part?
Hundreds [of the Z-backscatter devices] have been sold, to customers as diverse as the Department of Defense and small-town law enforcement agencies. The NYPD is one of AS&E’s thrilled customers.
I checked out the company's website, and, sure enough, they list various purchases of their devices to US and non-US government agencies alike. Furthermore, they have a contract from DHS to make general aviation scanners (to scan a whole plane).

Sunday, August 7, 2011

You might trigger TSA suspicion, but you'll have your dignity

Doug Casey writes about clearing US Customs with your dignity in tact. As Karen DeCoster points out, this is good advice for dealing with the TSA as well.