security theater

Georgia mulls protecting gun owners

Politico is reporting that Georgia politicians are mulling broader protections for gun owners. The latest plan is to ensure that people licensed to carry a gun will avoid arrest if they accidentally bring their firearms into the security checkpoint at Atlanta’s airport and if they willingly leave the security line, acknowledging their mistake.

It seems to be pretty commonsense legislation that would protect law-abiding citizens who make an honest mistake.

So is it any wonder the union that represents airport security screeners opposes the measure?

“The public has had 12 years’ notice that guns are prohibited,” said a statement from David Borer, general counsel for the American Federation of Government Employees. “Sooner or later they need to take responsibility for violating the law that’s meant to protect our officers and the traveling public.”


So the public cannot be allowed to make a mistake without having lives, livelihoods and records ruined by an agency that has had so many abuse allegations leveled against it that it has become a sad joke? This same agency that forced a cancer survivor to pull out her prosthetic breast, whose employees frighten small children, and whose employees sexually assault women at gunpoint, wants a zero tolerance policy for law-abiding citizens who make an honest mistake!

TSA doesn’t get the job done, should we abolish it?

When essential service providers don’t have competitors to worry about, consumers become hopelessly dependent and often frustrated, wondering how much better life could be if they were offered the opportunity to choose.

The service offered by the monopoly also becomes extremely expensive and less efficient. After all, the sole service provider has nothing to worry about. Where are consumers going to get what they need? The monopoly can always afford to be ineffective but it can only continue to be a monopoly while government keeps competitors out of the game.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was created in 2001 as a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

In 2002, the agency was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security. The service that the TSA provides should be a simple yet vital one: operating security screenings at commercial airports in order to avoid the same type of terrible occurrence that devastated the country back in 2001.

But the problem is: TSA hasn’t proven to be any more efficient than private contractors were before the creation of the special bureau. Instead, the U.S. spends about $7.9 billion a year to maintain an agency that is widely known for poor screening performances, mismanagement, security failures and somewhat suspicious investments.

TSA Foils Lotion Bomb Plot, Nabs My Daughter


One day last week, I woke up, got dressed for work, and hugged and kissed my 18-year old daughter goodbye, as she was shortly to be heading out to the airport to fly out west to visit a friend. I then got in my car and headed to work. About two hours later, I received a phone call from my wife, who was sobbing and inconsolable. It took me a minute or two to get her calmed down enough to understand what had happened; and when she told me what happened, I was livid.

It seems that my 18-year old, 5’7”, 125-pound daughter was involved in a dispute with a TSA agent (my daughter is many things, but meek and soft-spoken she is most certainly not). As she was making her way through security, the TSA agent began going through her purse, and proceeded to begin throwing away personal toiletry items, including a bottle of lotion that exceeded the maximum 3.4 ounce limit by a few ounces. My daughter, who is extremely sensitive to perfumes and additives found in most lotions, soaps, and shampoos, has to buy this expensive lotion for her hands and arms. Seeing the agent throw the lotion in the trash, she asked the agent if she (the agent) was going to pay to replace it, and when the agent declared she would not, my daughter removed the lotion and put it back in her purse.

TSA Profiling, Security Theater, and the Fourth Amendment


Written by Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

This weekend, The New York Times reported that the Transportation Security Administration’s “behavioral detection” program at Logan Airport has devolved into a racial profiling program, according to complaints from 32 federal officers who’ve seen up-close how it works. And yet to my eye, racial profiling isn’t the only constitutionally problematic aspect of the program revealed in the article (emphasis mine below):

In interviews and internal complaints, officers from the Transportation Security Administration’s “behavior detection” program at Logan International Airport in Boston asserted that passengers who fit certain profiles — Hispanics traveling to Miami, for instance, or blacks wearing baseball caps backward — are much more likely to be stopped, searched and questioned for “suspicious” behavior.

“They just pull aside anyone who they don’t like the way they look — if they are black and have expensive clothes or jewelry, or if they are Hispanic,” said one white officer, who along with four others spoke with The New York Times on the condition of anonymity. […]

TSA: Drinking the bong water

TSA gets a tough rap.  Let’s face it folks, these people do a tough, tough job, and all they get from us is nothing but derision, despite their hard work  They keep us safe from terrorists and all we can do…

…OK, sorry, I just can’t keep typing that crap without laughing my butt off.

Seriously, TSA is about as idiotic an organization as could possibly exist.  Even if they were a good idea, the Department of Homeland Security can’t seem to get all that much right.  The TSA, and their idea of keeping the nation safe is a prime example:

A recent TSA blog post cites several cases in which the agency’s screeners stopped travelers from carrying guns or knives onto airplanes: “the passenger in Boston who had a steak knife in his carry-on bag; the El Paso passenger with a 6 ½-inch hunting knife in his carry-on bag; the LaGuardia Airport passenger who had eight rounds of 9 mm ammunition in his bag; the JFK Airport passenger who had a 6-inch butterfly knife in his bag; and the New Orleans passenger who had a loaded .380 caliber firearm—with a bullet in the chamber—in his carry-on bag.” I’m not sure those eight 9mm rounds posed much of a threat, unless the passenger planned to hurl them at people. And as a commenter notes on the TSA blog, there is no indication that any of these passengers intended to harm anyone. But at least guns and knives are weapons (or potential weapons) that theoretically could be used to hijack a plane.

Abolish the TSA: Half of Americans agree security theater isn’t keeping us safe

TSA Security Pose

“Is this the pose of a free man?” Kentucky Senator Rand Paul asks, hands raised above his head. He’s mocking the Transportation Security Administration’s security pose.

Dylan Matthews over at Vox makes a timely case about abolishing the TSA’s security theater, which delays and degrades millions of traveling Americans annually:

Happy Memorial Day! This weekend is one of the year’s busiest for air travelers, with the AAA forecasting that 2.6 million people will travel by plane sometime between Thursday and Monday, up from 2.4 million last year.

That means 2.6 million people will be reminded yet again of the unremitting awfulness of the TSA, which has been subjecting fliers to friskinginvasive body scans, (alleged) racial profiling, needless checking of liquids and nail clippers, and various other indignities for nearly thirteen years now.

Big Sister to resign from Homeland Security post

Big Sister -- Janet Napolitano

Janet Napolitano, who has headed the Department of Homeland Security since 2009, announced this morning that she will resign her post to serve as president of the University of California.

“For more than four years I have had the privilege of serving President Obama and his Administration as the Secretary of Homeland Security,” said Napolitano in a statement. “The opportunity to work with the dedicated men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, who serve on the frontlines of our nation’s efforts to protect our communities and families from harm, has been the highlight of my professional career.”

Napolianto commended herself for policies that DHS has helped implement, including the harassment of travelers at airport security checkpoints, claiming that it has helped “minimize threats of all kinds to the American public.”

“After four plus years of focusing on these challenges, I will be nominated as the next President of the University of California to play a role in educating our nation’s next generation of leaders,” added Napolitano. “I thank President Obama for the chance to serve our nation during this important chapter in our history, and I know the Department of Homeland Security will continue to perform its important duties with the honor and focus that the American public expects.”

Democrat Admits Background Checks Won’t Work — Wants to Pass It Anyway

Kirsten Gillibrand

Though she still supports stricter gun control measures, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), in a rare moment of honesty from the anti-gun crowd, admitted to the The New York Times that the Manchin-Toomey amendment, which would expand background checks to gun shows and online gun sales, wouldn’t stop criminals from obtaining a firearm for nefarious purposes.

[A] separate gun measure, an anti-trafficking bill, is the subject of talks between Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, and two Republican senators who voted no on the background check bill. The Republicans, Senators Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, are discussing ways they might support the bill, which would criminalize the shipping or transfer of guns to someone who is barred from possessing a firearm.
“I think trafficking can be the base of the bill, the rock on which everything else stands,” Ms. Gillibrand said. “I also think it’s complementary to background checks because, let’s be honest, criminals aren’t going to buy a gun and go through a background check. So if you really want to go after criminals, you have to have to do both.”

Criminals don’t obey laws — that’s why they’re criminals. Over at Reason, Jacob Sullum points out that the push for new gun control laws, though they won’t really reduce instances of gun violence, is basically a publicity stunt; what he calls the “appearance of doing something.”

TSA harasses 3-year old in a wheelchair

Only the Transportation Security Administration could make a child’s trip to Disney World so miserable that she doesn’t want to go. As the Forck family was going through security at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, TSA agents took away a stuffed animal from their three-year old daughter, Lucy, who is in a wheelchair due to a medical condition.

When the agents insisted on inspecting her wheel chair, her mother decided to pull out her phone to record the incident. When a TSA agent told her it was “illegal” to record them, she demanded that the cite the law preventing her from doing so. The ordeal caused Lucy, who was crying loudly to say, “I don’t wanna go to Disney World!”

Here is the video of the incident. It was originally recorded at an odd angle and has been made a easier to watch, but the captions are hard to read:

Slow and Steady Progress on TSA Strip-Search Policy

Written by Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Having pled before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals that doing a notice-and-comment rulemaking on its strip-search machine policy is difficult and expensive, the Transportation Security Administration is dropping a cool quarter-billion dollars on new strip-search machines. That’s quite a fixation the TSA has, putting spending on new gadgets ahead of following the law.

But the writing is on the wall for the practice of putting travelers through strip-search machines and prison-style pat-downs at the government checkpoints in American airports.

On Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit ruled against a petition to have the court force TSA to move forward with taking public comments as required by law. The language of the order signals the court’s expectation, though, that the TSA will get this done, quoting the TSA’s language and, well, saying as much.

ORDERED that the petition for writ of mandamus be denied in light of the Government’s representation that “the process of finalizing the AIT Rulemaking documents so that the NPRM may be published is expected to be complete by or before the end of February 2013.” Accordingly, we expect that the NPRM will be published before the end of March 2013.

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