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Josh-D. S. Davis

Xaminmo / Omnimax / Max Omni / Mad Scientist / Midnight Shadow / Radiation Master

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Josh 201604 KWP
So I posted about the TSA standpoint that if you're taking photos, notes, or carrying a map, then you might be a terrorist...

One of my old BBS friends posted the common reply: "If you're not doing anything wrong, you shouldn't mind being questioned."

I'm pretty sure he's being sarcastic, but I wanted to ask: How many of you feel that way for real?

Be prepared to defend your response, either way you answer.

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Am I going to miss my flight if I get questioned?

I mean, ideally, I'd prefer they staff the TSA checkpoints with people who have an IQ higher than room temperature so that they could use actual JUDGMENT instead of a thousand zero-tolerance type rules. But the reality is, they DON'T staff the checkpoints with intelligent people and maybe intelligent people just aren't going to take those jobs. So given who they have, I think they need the silly rules.

And if it's going to catch people who ARE terrorists, then I agree with what your friend said. But first I want proof that questioning people with maps or whatever actually will catch real terrorists.

...Although I do think it's a slippery slope from "questioning" to "arresting". You shouldn't be able to arrest a person because they have a map and are trying to fly.

But questioning in and of itself doesn't really seem facist to me. They already have mandatory roadblocks and stuff like that where people can be pulled over (while driving) and be questioned for any reason or NO reason. How is this different?

That's the slope. "They already have.... so why not..."

We continue to lose priviliges because "it's more safe". Says who? Well, common knowledge, of course! Common knowledge is also known as mob mentality, completely unscientific, and usually not very accurate.

Take some examples of errant behavior.

In 2008, I was detained and rescreend because the TSA rep didn't like the way I walk. She was hostile and said to go back and walk normally. She said I was "walking like a penguin."

I've had TSA reps force me to dispose of approved items (a bar of shaving soap, under 3 ounces, in a wooden tray) because they weren't familiar with such items. The head of DFW's security office said he'd look into it, but there was never a response.

A TSA rep was fired last year for beating up coworkers who mocked him for having a small penis as shown on the 3d scanner which "cannot show what someone or their genitals actually look like." Somehow, it's not a strip search because it's done by computer?

One friend, her luggage is ALWAYS checked, rummaged, etc every time she checks luggage. She's on a list. No one will tell her what it is or what she can do about it.

Another friend, he missed a plane because they argued this his state issued ID wasn't acceptable. He said he's used the same ID before, and he'd just go down to the next checkpoint. They said they would have him arrested for trying to circumvent airport security. He had to escalate the issue and ultimately provide alternate ID.

There is insufficient accountability on the part of the officers of TSA and insufficient recourse on the part of their customers.

They are "civil servants". In other words, they work for the government, for the benefit of the people.

As such, there are certain standards which must be met. There are also certain limitations of performance based on the average person who can and would work for the TSA.

TSA is there for ME. Not "them" or "they" or "the USA". Their purpose is to protect ME and my fellow travelers.

I feel the TSA has stretched its authority and actions beyond what can be safely performed by the workforce available to perform those duties.

Either they need a higher caliber of worker, which means higher cost than simply your shopping mall security guard, or they need to reduce the imposition created by said workforce.

I would prefer a higher caliber of worker. Most TSA workers are morons. But I don't see a difference between the caliber of the TSA workers and caliber of most police officers.

Oh, but you know what? There is a difference. TSA workers are FEDERAL employees and police officers are city or state employees. So you're right. The TSA people do have kind of a lot of power and that's scary.

But my point is that I don't have a problem with the questioning itself. I have a problem with the morons who are doing the questioning. :)

Right, but you can't replace the morons because all humans are morons, statistically speaking. You can't have the top 5% of the TSA officers doing 95% of the work, so you have the grunts doing it.

The duties are beyond their abilities, and they cannot be replaced, therefore the duties should be adjusted.

I still think we're teetering on the edge of Nazi era facism, only this time, the perpetrator is the US, and the victims are the Muslims and anyone who doesn't subserviently comply, or who stands out in any way.

We're not quite yet at the point of rounding them all up, but maybe sometime in the next 20 years...

Vaguely related security/border/authority issues:

I'm going to have to quote Martin Niemöller:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.


The whole argument of "if you have nothing to hide..." is complete and utter crap. There's a reason our legal system is predicated on innocent until proven guilty. This is a complete reversal of that mindset - it assumes the guilt of everyone, but if you're willing to forgo your privacy, then you can "prove" that you're innocent.

Guilty until proven innocent...

Much better stated than any of my frustrated rants in other threads of this post.

Bruce Schneier has very insightful things to say about security and privacy.

I don't mind being questioned. I do mind being detained/refused entry if I choose not to answer.

I mind being questioned because it's difficult to plan the time required.

Either have a standard procedure, or don't but the average TSA officer is not qualified to use discretion, and draconian rules just create more resentment, interference, etc.

The TSA reps are more like federally funded rent-a-cops. Their skill and training is inferior to local police, but their ability to interfere is greater.

I would much rather airport security be retained at the state and local level as it was before. Federal funding to expand the police force, but have them be fully trained and qualified police officers.

Government exists to protect its people from internal and external threats. Once it starts having trouble disguishing a threat from its own people, something is probably going wrong.

The "If you have nothing to hide..." argument smacks me the same way as if someone said "If you're not ugly naked, why would you have a problem not wearing clothes...?" It's a stupid dare to coerce a people into giving up a right (to privacy) to give the government more power. The intentions are fine enough. Everyone wants to feel safe and the easiest way to be safe is to know for sure what everyone on a flight is not carrying and exactly who they are and where they come from.

Eff that. Once you give up your rights to privacy (and we've already given up SO much of that), you simply can't get it back. If it's OK for the TSA to see us naked to make sure we don't have a dangerous nail file in our pockets, then it's never really OK again for us to go back on that and say "No, it's not okay for you to see me naked, because that's my body and I only want my gyno and my boyfriend to see that."

I'm not going to post a lot of alarmist crap about slippery slopes, though it is a real fear of mine and justified by the courses governments have taken in history. I'm just going to say giving up a right is NEVER a good idea for any reason.

That's in part why I try to exercise my second amendment right as much as possible, as there are a lot of threats against it.

Extending paranoia just a little.

You have no rights! I'm sure that given enough effort, you could be convicted of several felonies, as could just about any citizen.

ie, if you cause trouble for those in power, they will limit your activities substantially.

It's more that the system we've chosen doesn't require it, so we shouldn't have to do it. This is similar to : http://dailydoubt.blogspot.com/2008/03/if-you-have-nothing-to-hide.html

When i think TSA, I think of this:


I like all the other links ppl have put in the comments as well.

I find security theater a threat to security.

I remember traveling from CA, 32 weeks pregnant and in preterm labor. I was in a wheelchair and instructed to move as little as possible. I relayed this info to the person pushing me through the airport as my handy sidekick (kayla, age 8) rambled on and on to the poor dude. We get to security and i was asked if I could stand and walk through. I said I would prefer not to. Kayla is still chatting away with the next person who will listen. And with a shrug and a wave, the security officer signaled the worker to push me on down the hall with Kayla coming along. Voila.

There could have been anything in my belly or on my body. Or Kayla's. But women and children are never used for terrorist acts so.....

Awesome, right? You lose soap and I sail through undetected because I am a presumably pregnant women with a child in toe. The current system is not ideal, and too much is left open for agent mood/judgement. I mind the baseless questioning, and I mind the serious lack of legitimate questioning.

Or let me tell you about the time i lost my ID and got through the airport with a Costco card and barely a double take....

Things he carried and Bruce Schneider

Ok, so I had to test it.

They said a terrorist would board with JB-Weld (aka steel reinforced epoxy) and use that to make a knife.

Seemed a little far fetched, and I happened to have a bunch of the stuff on hand.

Shenanegans on that. He said "it hardens in 15 minutes."

Well, "hardens" is a relative term. It becomes brittle in 3-5 minutes, and hardens in about 30 mins, but at 2 hours, it was still soft enough that it wouldn't hold an edge, could be bent pretty easily, and serrations simply snapped off.

I even tried making a spearhead out of it, and that was promising, but the tip broke off. This stuff typically isn't "metal hard" until 24 hours later. Even then, it's an epoxy resin, which means it's slightly rubbery. Getting a "knife" out of this stuff would be a miracle.

I still fall back on the fact that a few CDs in your bag wouldn't attract any special attention, but if you fold a CD in half like a taco, it shatters and will give you 1-4 nice blades for both stabbing and slashing.

But, as Bruce stated in the past, the best thing to come out of all of this was lockable doors on the cockpit and knowledge that passengers will fight back against hijackers.

Everything else is theatre, to give a false sense of security, and to employ a whole bunch of other people who want to make a difference, but weren't really willing or able to go into a real force like the police or military. There's a few shining stars, but most of them are yahoos.

I've been thinking about this recently, but in terms of a different issue- Open Carry (OC) [of a firearm]. OC is legal in the majority of states (whereas in most places you need a permit to carry it /concealed/). Understandably, it is not uncommon for police to respond to "man with a gun" (MWAG) reports because OC is not common (and most people, including officers, don't realize it's legal (though not in TX)).

Without letting this turn into an essay, I have a problem with the police over-responding, including over-questioning individuals under the guise of "suspicious activity." On the surface, one can argue suspicious activity for anything out of the ordinary. Wearing a golf glove through a TSA checkpoint could be a good example of this. However, my question is, "Suspicion of what, exactly?" I think there needs to be reasonable belief that a person is in the act of, or about to commit a specific crime.

A person filling up their car at a gas station with a pistol strapped to their hip, while atypical, does not constitute suspicious activity (do you see many criminals publicly advertising themselves as having been or about to commit a violent crime?). Likewise, wearing a golf glove, photo-blogging your misadventures, and mumbling to yourself is all perfectly legal (with some exceptions to taking photos) and although a little weird at a TSA checkpoint by societal norms, it's far from suspicious (again, what crime is likely to be committed?)

I could see the glove being like shoes, which are discretionary. You could hide stuff in the glove that somehow you couldn't hide in your pants..


And every pat-down includes a crotch search.

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