Category: Abuse-of-Authority

Abuse of Authority

You may have noticed the new page on the site called “Abuse of Authority.” This page will link to my posts on the many abuses of authority which occur daily, many focused on the TSA. Some other TSA-related posts may wind up there as well, because, when talking about the TSA, it usually is about their abuses, or their lack of actual security, or some such. Easier just to keep everything in one place 😉

How to thwart TSA “security”

A couple of weeks ago, the TSA found a plastic dagger via it’s virtual strip-search machines. In the picture, the dagger appears to have a four-inch blade. In the comments, several people (rightfully) take TSA to task for this find, as it is not a threat to aviation. Our point is that it is not worth the liberties and the money to find something so insignificant, but some anonymous person seemed to want an answer as to why we were not focusing on the intent of the person trying to smuggle it on. My reply exposes several “weaknesses” in TSA security, so I doubt it will get approved. But here is my basic reply (I did not save a local copy, so I don’t have it word-for-word:

The intent of the person carrying this dagger is irrelevant, as it is not a threat to aviation. If he had ill intent, here are some other ways to get past security:

First, make the checkpoint itself the target. I’m not sure how much damage you could do with a 4″ plastic blade, but you’d be just as big a threat to aviation there as if you managed to get it on the plane, what with hardened cockpit doors and passenger awareness and all.

Second, place the blade in the scanner’s blind spot. See point one as to why, even if successful, you’re still not a threat to aviation.

Third, take a pair of scissors, which are allowed, instead. Once past security, separate the blades. Now you have TWO weapons instead of one. See point one as to why this does not matter, though, and why I suspect the scissors are allowed to begin with.

Fourth, go through security and find a place inside the “secure” area to have a nice steak dinner before your flight. Pocket the steak knife before you leave the restaurant. You’re still not a threat to aviation, but at least you had a nice meal before the other passengers on the flight took you down when you started trying to take over the plane with a steak knife.

Finally, fly first-class and opt for the in-flight meal. Then you can wait, in the comfort of first class, for a flight attendant to hand you a knife. Again, at least you had a nice meal (with the bonus of a comfortable seat on the plane) before the other passengers took you down.

Never debate a TSO

Recently, I’ve been debating a TSO over at the TSA Blog in various different comment threads. I took TSORon to task for some misstatements that were made regarding TSA’s performance. I asked an anonymous TSA apologist for proof that the screeners on 9/11 were poorly trained and that the TSA were any better. TSORon responded saying to read sections 9.1, 9.2, and 13.5 of the 9/11 commission report. So I did, and they to not speak to this. At all. So TSORon said to read a different section. Dude, if you’re gonna cite sources, cite them correctly the first time. In another thread, I pointed out that the TSA is not any better at screening, as they have an approximate 70% failure rate. TSORon again took the opportunity to fire back with false information, stating that the information was from a 2004 report about 2002 screening. True. I have never claimed otherwise. However, he claims this number is irrelevant, but refuses to acknowledge that in a Congressional report in November 2011, it was stated that, while the actual failure rate is SSI, it has changed very little over time. What does this tell us? It tells us that if we have the TSA’s failure rate at any point of their existence, then we know that it is roughly the same. Since the TSA admits the 70% number was accurate at one point in time, does it not follow that, given the Nov 2011 statement, that it is still roughly the same? Not a single TSO I’ve debated this with has even acknowledged this statement, and the debate abruptly ends any time I bring this fact up. Wonder why?

When did we lose the cold war?

When I was growing up during the 70’s and 80’s, we had one enemy: “The Soviets.” It wasn’t that we were at war with them, but we were taught to hate the enemy none-the-less. In a work of fiction, for instance televised wrestling, if you needed an enemy, you put a mask on him and wrote U.S.S.R. (or, for those who realized USSR was an English translation, CCCP) on his trunks. After all, everyone knew that the Soviets were evil. Even when we began to know better, we were still taught that their way of life was evil. This is what the cold war was about, as I’m sure that the children of the USSR were taught the same thing about us. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed is 1991, it appeared that our way of life had won. We would no longer have to worry about having to show our papers when traveling domestically.

One September morning 10 years later, with one terrorist act that was, statistically, an anomaly, and all of those cold war fears were realized. Our enemy is no longer the Soviet in the mask with USSR or CCCP on his wresting trunks, but the result is the same. As a result of the 9/11 attacks, we can no longer travel domestically, at least by air, without showing “our papers” in the form of a photo ID. We can no longer show up at an airport and pay cash for the next ticket to wherever our hearts desire. And even when we buy our tickets in advance, we are subjected to harassment by random KGB – err, TSA – agents.

Since these horrible events five years ago, our rights have been increasingly stripped. Once again, we are fighting a cold war, but this time it is with our own government. Our “official” stance is still that we do not negotiate with terrorists. Apparently, this is taken to mean, by the current administration at least, that we give them everything they want. By declaring “war on terror” and taking away our rights, our government has given the war to the terrorists. By invading Iraq and taking out the leader of a sovereign nation, our government has destabilized an entire region. This lack of stability plays into the hands of the terrorists because they can legitimately blame us for this problem and easily recruit new members.

Sadly, the cold war was lost five years ago, with the events following 9/11, ten years after it had ended. We have lost it as much to our own government as to the terrorists who have attacked us. Today, I mourn the loss of those who died, but I also mourn the loss of our freedoms.