Over the Top?

Another day, another video, from another TSA checkpoint. I don’t believe these people will ever understand their place, as it relates to airport/airline security. But your experience will be helpful when you apply to Walmart or the mall, so just remember that. Base on those few comments or past TSA related posts, I am not a big supporter of the TSA or their “iron fist” tactics at security checkpoints. This is one reason why I chose NOT to fly. The other reason, I really have no place to go, but if I did I would consider driving first.

While I do believe this woman is overreacting, with a bit of flair for the dramatic the ensuing video of her son being confronted, first by the TSA, followed by a ‘Ground Security Coordinator’ (GSC) from Southwest Airlines. “A Ground Security Coordinator is an employee of an airline who is designated to interface with aircrew, law enforcement officers, and others in matters of security.” This supervisor (I assume) tells the person filming, “it’s illegal” followed by “do you want to fly anywhere?” He is very confrontation and threatening in his approach. Hmmm, that was something I wasn’t taught when I went through my GSC training for United. Then again, I would not get involved in this situation, since it’s solely between the passenger and the TSA.

From the TSA Blog, which is really nothing more than a mouthpiece is this piece of information,

We don’t prohibit public, passengers or press from photographing, videotaping, or filming at screening locations…local laws, state statutes, or local ordinances might

Yet when the Phoenix Police Department arrive they do nothing to the individual filming and while not completely clear, they took the woman in question back out of the sterile area. Now there was some discussion this had happened multiple times by the family in question. Not surprise the local authorities don’t do much to back the complaint of the woman. Although, near the end of the video you can hear the peace officer say “I don’t think they will let you fly.”

There are other ways to go ab out making your Fourth Amendment Right statement. I have highlighted a few in past Aviation “in”Security pieces. I would stand up for my rights and refuse to be molested by the TSA. Chances are I would turn around and walk away (if they allowed me). It’s a broken process that doesn’t further aviation security. I have called it “window dressing” in the past and will stand by that statement. This “make work program” has not deterred terrorists from striking the U.S. or taking down our nation’s airlines.

Foiled Again!

There is a high likelihood that [the bomb] would have been detected had he boarded a flight in the United States.” Does Big Sis really have THAT much confidence in the “thousands standing around” at airport security checkpoints across the United States? Pretty bold statement, but I don’t believe she was in much a position to say otherwise. But a top law-enforcement official insisted, “They would not have gotten him” (source). We have no further information as to who this official was, based on the details of this case, as we know it, I agree this underwear bomb would have successfully made it through.

With the dog and pony show infringing on our rights at our nation’s airports, it won’t take much more for screening procedures to be revised again when it comes to how travelers are screened prior to entering a “sterile” area at the airport. I have yet to read a story in which TSA actually deterred or prevent an act of terrorism at an airport, but this latest attempt could have Big Sis rethinking procedures.

For metallic items, like guns and knives the old x-ray machines and now backscatter machines are acceptable. We have seen a few You Tube videos including a detailed example from Jonathan Corbett who runs TSA Out Of Our Pants. Unfortunately individuals like Richard Reid, the show bomber in 2001 and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the underwear bomber in 2009 both failed at their attempts, but this time a a CIA informant was the individual chosen for the suicide mission. Unfortunately, “current technology is not good enough to find nonmetallic explosive devices like the newest underwear bomb.” Thankfully the bomb is now in the hands of the U.S. authorities as we wait for further details to emerge.

Here is another example of how government agencies foiled a terrorist plot and NOT the TSA. Contrary to what Big Sis thinks and states on the record TSA screeners would not have have suspected this underwear bomb. “This bomb was put into the equivalent of briefs, so it was much tighter and form-fitting and harder to see” (source). How would an intrusive pat-down, using the back of your hands detect something sewn into a pair of briefs? The AIT machines would have been worthless in detecting this. “The only surefire way to detect nonmetallic explosive devices is using bomb-sniffing dogs, but that’s impractical at crowded airports.”

So score another victory for our alphabet agency, the CIA. As for the TSA, it’s time to review current procedures. Terrorists groups, like Al Qaeda are continuing to revise and improve their bomb making techniques and looking at delivery systems. This time, the U.S. dodged a bullet. What about next time? How long before travelers are submitting to further invasive touching or probing in order to make sure we are not a delivery device.

Facebook Censorship

It’s bad enough our freedoms are slowing dissolving in this once great land. I don’t have to look any further than the government continually trying to take away our right to bear arms or the TSA and their disregard for the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution as they conduct illegal search and seizure without probably cause. Guess the government considers many of terrorist, based purely on what we say.

That leads to this story about Facebook and their censorship for “irrelevant or inappropriate” comments. So much for freedom of speech and it was really only a matter of time before they started cracking down on a very touchy subject. Facebook claims they are “working to create a safe and clean environment on its corner of the web by shutting down abusive or harassing behavior, content such as pornography, or general spamming of the system” (source). Much like the article says, I don’t understand how pornography and spam on the same level of comments posted on Facebook.

What offends an individual on Facebook is going to be subjective. I have seen quite a bit of “questionable” pages that could easily fall under soft pornography. Yet none of those pages have been shut down to my knowledge. There are times I read, what could be construed as “abusive comments” but why censor them? This was one of the main reasons I didn’t want to get into the social networking. I don’t want Big Brother looking over my shoulder telling me what I can and cannot post. Facebook’s explanation was “To protect the millions of people who connect and share on Facebook every day.”

I find the Facebook ads offensive everyday I log on to their system. I hide the ad and list the reason as “offensive.” Why not? Like many sites I visit I don’t like their ads spamming my screen, yet Facebook won’t block any of those “ads” as they continue to data mine more information in order to tailor those ads to your likes and dislikes. Unfortunately their ads bring in revenue, so they will never go away.

As for the censoring of comments, Robert Scoble (the individual at the cent er of this) spoke to Facebook PR, “They say what actually happened is my comment was classified as spam. He further said that this was a “false positive” because my comment was one that Facebook doesn’t want to block.” Facebook can spin this however they want, but censorship is wrong. Here is another story from last April about Facebook’s censorship.

4 Years Later…

87 pages of complaints to the TSA! If that’s not bad enough, it has taken 4 years for these complaints to made public. In 2008 Michael Grabell filed an FOIA request for a list of complaints from travelers. Unfortunately the Government wasn’t in any hurry to get him a response (I am sure they will cite “security concerns”). An FOIA is a process that usually takes a month or so took a bit longer, 4 years longer, but the results are not all that surprising. This is the basis of TSA Reveals Passenger Complaints, an article on ProPublica.org.

The list compiled from the FOIA request is now 4 years old, but the complaints are the nothing new from air travelers. Many of the complaints deal with concern over a name on the no fly watch list, questions regarding valid identification, items removed or allegedly stolen and travelers subjected to abusive treatment by TSA employees. As I said, nothing we haven’t heard or read about in the mainstream media, some brought to the forefront thanks in part to video.

Is the TSA really that backlogged on complaints they could not respond quicker to this inquiry? It wouldn’t come as any surprise if they are as more and more travelers file some sort of complaint because of their travel experience, many of which happen at the security checkpoints. “Lorie Dankers provided a statement pointing out that the agency has received an average of more than 800 requests annually over the past four years. Then the TSA apologized” (source). Sorry doesn’t cut it. Answers do.

Regardless of what happens, the TSA has gained too much power to man security checkpoint since it’s inception. As I wrote a few days ago, this department needs to be disbanded and private companies should be put back in place. Regardless of what group is “providing security” and I use that term very loosely, it really won’t matter. Neither the government or private security provide any real deterrent when it comes to terrorist. In my opinion they are solely window dressing. The intrusive pat-downs are unnecessary and are a violation of our Fourth Amendment.