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  • Incompetence, Thy Name is TSA

    Posted by James R. Rummel on December 31st, 2009 (All posts by )

    Via Glenn we find out that the TSA is using legal muscle to go after a couple of bloggers.

    It seems that new security procedures were rushed into place right after the Panty Bomber incident, but the Feds say that the directive wasn’t supposed to be revealed to the public. They want to know who leaked the info.

    The fact that bloggers are in the litigation cross hairs will be of primary interest to other people who write online. But I want to know how the TSA thinks it can keep out terrorists who are aching to blow up commercial airliners if they can’t keep their internal, secret security directives from being emailed to those who are supposed to be kept in the dark. Since they allowed some known al Qaeda stooge without a passport or luggage who was carrying a syringe full of acid just waltz on a flight to Detroit, I suppose that is a silly question.

    On a side note, fellow gunblogger Breda has the final word on the failures of TSA security

    “…tell me again why I have to bear the humiliation of being groped and swabbed every time I fly? Someone please explain it to me because, clearly, I don’t understand. Can’t they just put me on a terrorist watchlist so that TSA will leave me alone?”

     

    10 Responses to “Incompetence, Thy Name is TSA”

    1. Dan from Madison Says:

      I try to fly as little as humanly possible but sometimes I just have to. I always feel like a prisoner when I enter the departing airport, but feel American again once I exit the destination airport’s doors. I always cringe when I see some TSA thug frisking or otherwise annoying a little old lady from Sioux Falls who can’t even walk. The terrorists won this one, plain and simple.

    2. Jonathan Says:

      Everybody knows that our air-passenger screening system is mostly for show. The public tolerates it because it’s only moderately burdensome most of the time. But if the TSA forbids carry-ons or starts to administer strip searches a la all the jokes, or wastes even more of travelers’ time, there will come a point where only people who have no choice will fly, and this will be terrible for the airlines, so the government will probably relax any harsh new screening procedures after a while.

      Technology alone is not likely to stop terrorists from trying to bring down airplanes; the targets are too tempting and creative people will eventually find ways to defeat any new screening machines. The central question is whether the government is capable of adopting proven security procedures, meaning Israeli-style screening using trained profilers, or whether it prefers political correctness and the occasional mass-murder. Perhaps nothing less than a series of successful bombings will get Congress to make the necessary systemic changes. Until then, political correctness outweighs every other consideration including the value of human life.

      BTW, security schemes based on scrutinizing all Muslims or even forbidding them from flying are just as misguided as are those that put excessive faith in technology and mass-screening. Very few Muslims are terrorists, in many cases it’s difficult to know who is Muslim, and if we start giving extra scrutiny to, say, Arabs, the terrorists will start using bombers who don’t look like Arabs — Nigerians, perhaps, or Chechens, or central Asians, or western converts. The terrorists are highly motivated and therefore creative. The TSA people staring at thousands of x-rays or body scans daily are neither. Terrorists will find workarounds, and rigid screening systems will be slow to adapt. Behavioral profiling combined with the interviewing of selected passengers by skilled people may be a better way to go.

    3. Mrs. Davis Says:

      Just part of the continued Sovietization of America. A piece with nationalized health care, nationalized automotive, nationalized banking, nationalized insurance, nationalized mortgages, and nationalized college football championships. We’re becoming a nation of mindless servants, patiently and dutifully serving and enriching our incompetent masters. I flew once post TSA and fortunately moved to a job where I don’t have to fly any longer. I am now a kulak who has learned enough to despair watching us meanly lose, the last best, hope of earth.

    4. J. Scott Says:

      Jonathan,

      “The central question is whether the government is capable of adopting proven security procedures, meaning Israeli-style screening using trained profilers, or whether it prefers political correctness and the occasional mass-murder. ‘

      Political Correctness is the Holy Grail of the leftist/progressive/socialist, these nitwits would rather endure an occasional attack than relinquish their “correctness.” God forbid they offend anyone…except people who don’t “think” as they do.

      More important than the threat from without is the threat of an oppressive monolithic centralized bureaucracy. Liberty is more important than “security.”

    5. veryretired Says:

      Of course TSA is riddled with problems—its another huge state department with a mish mash of assignments and pc mandates that preclude many effective strategies, not the least of which is a realistic assessment of where the threat is coming from.

      However, it must be said that TSA had little or no involvement in this latest lunacy, which involved an international flight that started in Africa and stopped in Amsterdam, neither of which is under TSA control.

      The significant problem areas, once the ritualistic TSA bashing runs out of steam, are clearly within the intelligience community and the State Dept. The former once again failed to transmit significant information about a possible threat, and the latter issued a visa to someone whose ideological animosity towards this country was fairly well known.

      TSA seems to prevent the kind of half-assed hijacking and associated mayhem that was so prevalent prior to 2001, when numerous planes were taken over by mental cases trying to go to Cuba or some such nonsense. Of course, that scenario was transformed by the 9/11 incidents, when the formerly prudent passivity of the passengers was shown to be an outmoded strategy when the plane was taken over in order to crash it.

      Just as the supposed jobs saved by the stimulus spending cannot realistically be tabulated, so too the number of potential looneys who dreamt of hijacking an airliner in order to accomplish some nefarious business enroute to their martyrdoms, but are thwarted by the basic weapons screening TSA conducts, cannot ever be estimated.

      It seems safe to say, however, that there would have been a few more attempts if no security screening process was in place, and, while there is enormous room for improvement across the board, in this limited sense the current system is fairly effective.

      I do not fly often, prefering to drive when travelling, even long distances, if it is feasible, and my wife likes trains. I do, however, visit various public buildings from time to time, and their procedures are similar to TSA’s, although apparently not as controversial.

      Finally, while I appreciate the ideological urge to bash any and all security agencies, an urge that permeates the left as well as the libertarian right, it is only just to remember that TSA has contact with millions of travellers on a daily basis.

      If there weren’t any anecdotal instances of rudeness or incompetence, that would be more newsworthy than the obvious fact that these incidents do occur in a certain number of cases, but that number is dwarfed by the number of entirely uneventful screenings that do occur, and the thousands of uneventful flights that have completed their transit without any incidents from underwear bombers or knife/gun wielding martyrs-in-waiting.

      On a personal note, I would just as soon this latest idiot was trussed up with seat belt extenders and dumped out on the tarmac to enjoy the damage he had done to his genetalia until he either expired from his injuries or was run over by a plane bound for Cleveland.

      Of course, those sorts of feelings were the reason I was always told by she who must be obeyed to keep my mouth shut at school or team/parent meetings and such, so that I didn’t offend the straights.

      The guys I have lunch with think I’m pretty mild mannered. I won’t go into their suggestions as to follow-up treatment for characters like this eunuch. Suffice it to say that the Red Cross would not be amused.

    6. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Profile!

    7. Michael Kennedy Says:

      The significant problem areas, once the ritualistic TSA bashing runs out of steam, are clearly within the intelligience community and the State Dept.

      The TSA bashing seems to me to be the result of the TSA’s ritualistic punishing of passengers, not failure to prevent the incident. Janet Napolitano (I almost typed Janet Reno) came out and made a statement that would have embarrassed Trig Palin once he learns to talk.

      Then the TSA decided to thwart another failed hijacking by requiring the hijacker to detonate his bomb more than an hour from landing so the explosive decompression, which was the purpose of this bomb, will take place at 33, 000 feet instead of 10,000 feet. This will correct his error but won’t do the passengers much good. Likewise, banning the use of electronic devices in the last hour will have exactly zero effect on the risk of a PETN bomb going off.

      The TSA must have a mole writing their public relations press releases because no one who cared about the agency would write such drivel and publish it.

      Yes, the State Department botched the visa application and yes, the same department has learned nothing since they approved Mohammed Atta’s application after he crashed the airplane into the WTC. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton has been smart enough to disappear from public view. Janet Napolitano could learn something from her.

    8. J. Scott Says:

      Michael Kennedy, Brilliant observation:

      “The TSA bashing seems to me to be the result of the TSA’s ritualistic punishing of passengers, not failure to prevent the incident. Janet Napolitano (I almost typed Janet Reno) came out and made a statement that would have embarrassed Trig Palin once he learns to talk.”

      The ham-handedness of TSA is typical of a bureaucracy with a mission filtered through PC BS.

      Then there’s the claim of a second bubba arrested (see Drudge)—the gov’t is making a mess of explaining, much less preventing this nonsense.

    9. veryretired Says:

      MK—I don’t disagree with anything you said. Napalitano was appointed, as far as I understand it, because she had the approved PC attitude towards ilegal immigration, to the point that she didn’t even know it was illegal. Coming from the former governor of a border state, I found that comment rather dim, to say the least.

      The policies and procedures used by TSA are formulated and mandated by the higher ups in Washington, many of whom are former military, but all of which is relentlessly screened for pc and multi-culti correctness before it is put into effect.

      I have a strong dislike of the tendency to harshly criticize the ordinary working stiffs on the front lines at the airports for the policies they are required to follow. I doubt many of them have much to say about any of it. Of course, as in any large organization, esp. a state agency, there is the full range of excellent to crappy members of the screening group in terms of attitude and competence.

      I doubt the recent proposal to unionize them will add much of value to the situation, but it will certainly have political benefits, which is probably the point of 95% of all this business anyway.

    10. Michael Kennedy Says:

      I have heard rumors that Napolitano is on the short list for appointment to the Supreme Court. This appointment may have been a test and, I must say, she has passed with flying colors. She was given a high stress assignment; explain why TSA failed to deal with the bomber. She succeeded brilliantly by mouthing brainless euphemism bordering on parody. That should be sufficient qualification for appointment once Ruth Bader Ginsberg retires for health reasons.