Thursday, January 14, 2010

The TSA: Total Stupidity Administration

The New York Times reports that Mikey Hicks, an 8 year old Cub Scout is consistently harrassed by the TSA because he shares the name of someone who is in the no fly list.
Ever since the advent of the TSA we have seen nothing but sheer stupidity, absurdity and blundering, not to mention humiliating mistreatment, when we fly. I reprint this reader's comment that sums up pretty much how I feel about the whole thing. And I agree, it's time for citizens to demand a better system.
I used to work as a Federal Air Marshal. I have seen kids, even disabled kids searched repeatedly. In the meantime, I have gotten through airport security with a handgun, 2 spare magazines, two pairs of handcuffs and a knife, even without my badge. Even through secondary screening. The whole system is nothing but smoke and mirrors. Even the best and brightest TSA screeners could not identify a suicide bomber if one detonated in front of them. On the cargo side, one could easily sneak a heard of elephants onto an airplane. On the ground, planes are being serviced and cleaned by people that have been in the country for only a few months, yet they are 'required' to have a 10 year criminal background check. I can tell you from my 4 years as part of that circus that it is a GIGANTIC waste of money and not much else. I minimize my flying because it is such a pain in the neck these days. I was hoping that the Obama administration would re-visit this stupidity, but its business as usual in DC. And, the terrorists have already won. They spent less than $250,000 on Sept 11th, we spent hundreds of billions and can't even keep KNOWN terrorists out of passenger airliners. We are well on our way to ruining this country. Instead of looking how Israel handles airline security (they did write the book on it), the Bushies re-invented the wheels. Then, there were all those Secret Service retirees that had to be kept on the payroll, so guess who got to be the managers of the Air Marshal Service to the tune of $ 250,000 each per year between their retirement AND a salary. If you want to see the net effect of all of this stupidity, go to GSA Auctions and see the pocket knives, screwdrivers, corkscrews and nail clippers that were taken away from honest people being auctioned of - by the ton. We have seen the enemy and it is us. I am just amazed at how the public has put up, even seem to appreciate being abused by this system because the majority of travelers seem to think that the government is 'trying to keep them safe'. Sorry, you are on your own. Rely on this bloated, ineffective, incompetent and arrogant government system and you might as well be walking towards the Superdome.
I lived in Israel for 4 years. I happily submitted to their security interrogations, after which I was always confident I had no reason to fear a terrorist attack on my flight. I never felt harassed or abused or mistreated by neanderthals. I was never asked to take off my shoes or leave my lip gloss behind. Nobody thought that my toothpaste was a weapon of mass destruction. The agents were smart, well trained people that looked you in the eye, sized you up and took their sweet time asking you questions, not repeating a litany by rote like parrots. They did this with every single passenger. Yes, you had to be at the airport 3 hours before your flight.
Me: bring it on!
I once saw two Norwegian hippie girls bring the security line to a standstill at Ben Gurion Airport because they hesitated to answer if they had been to the Occupied Territories. The nanosecond it took them to look at each other before they got their story straight was enough for the security agent to decide to scrutinize absolutely every possession they had (we were there with all our luggage). He unraveled the socks, opened the lipsticks, unfolded the clothes, uncapped the deodorants, etc.
These women could have been a threat, maybe unbeknownst to them (like a pregnant Irish woman at Heathrow that an Israeli agent stopped because he didn't like that her luggage seemed too heavy but had very little stuff inside, and sure enough, somebody had put plastic explosives inside the lining).
The agent on my line was not abusive or arrogant, just no nonsense. He did his job methodically and tried to put everything back where he found it. Curiously, he didn't ask them to go into another room but made us all wait for like half an hour until he was finished, I assume as a precautionary measure in case anyone thought not to fess up.
Another time I had been given a box of wedding invitations from a friend to bring to Mexico. When asked if anyone gave me something, I was tempted to lie because I knew it was harmless, but then I thought if I lie and this agent reads my mind (they look at you like your mother when she wants to find out where you've been), it's gonna be drama so I said yes and explained. They took the box away and brought it back 5 minutes later. She told me, you did good to tell the truth.
So now that there are so many unemployed qualified people in the US, why not follow the Israeli training manual and give these sensitive important jobs to people who can really do them, not uneducated, clueless minimum salary workers. Not only that, but stop coming up with inane absurdities that just hassle the passengers and keep no one safe.
And Miss Napolitano, you idiot, the system did not work. It doesn't work.

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