I travel by air, well, a lot, and I haven’t personally had any issues with the Transportation Security Agency (TSA.) Maybe I’m lucky. Maybe having a Pre-Check pass spares me some of that. But plenty of people have had issues with TSA, and they aren’t improving. Excerpt:
“Food can trigger lots of false alarms because of the density of some items,” the Wall Street Journal recently reported about the Transportation Security Administration’s justifications for imposing yet another round of tighter and more-intrusive airport carry-on baggage restrictions. “Chocolate, for example, can look like some types of explosives to X-ray machines.”
As a result, some airline passengers around the country—soon to be all of us—are being asked to remove such items as books, electronic devices, and food from carry-on luggage for separate screening.
This makes an odd sort of sense (not really). An internal investigation of the TSA, leaked in 2015, found that many types of explosives apparently look to agents quite a bit like chocolate. Guns seem to closely resemble Tom Clancy novels in their eyes. Knives may be easily mistaken by the thin uniformed line against especially dim terrorists for those fuzzy troll dolls, though that part is a bit unclear. Well, maybe that’s not all true. But such confusion would explain why “TSA agents failed 67 out of 70 tests, with Red Team members repeatedly able to get potential weapons through checkpoints.”
“In one test an undercover agent was stopped after setting off an alarm at a magnetometer,” ABC News noted, “but TSA screeners failed to detect a fake explosive device that was taped to his back during a follow-on pat down.”
Well, they should obviously have used chocolate in the test. Maybe a few of those suspicious-looking Toblerone bars kids sell door to door would have set their spidey-senses tingling.
After that embarrassing failure, the TSA’s working theory seems to be, if you make everybody dump their sandwiches, tablets, and paperbacks into separate bins at the security checkpoint, we vastly increase the chance of intercepting backpack nukes and rocket-propelled grenades, which themselves could be mistaken for sandwiches, tablets, and paperbacks. Sure, the guards may still need some guidance as to which confiscated items are safe for noshing, but the security measures will be covering all bases.
Maybe one day someone will have a sudden rush of brains to the head and re-institute the Fourth Amendment at the nation’s airports.
We talked (well, I wrote, you read) about privatizing air traffic control just the other day. Why not privatize airport security as well? As recently as 2001, plenty of airports contracted security to private companies. As part of the post-9/11 pants-shitting over security issues, the Imperial government implemented our current security theater. New York’s Chuck Schumer, that master purveyor of malapropisms, claimed “to professionalize, you Federalize.”
Schumer’s statement here is the purest form of corral litter, suitable only for enriching lawns. But then he has a long history of such.
Security theater isn’t just in place at airports, of course. A couple of years back I was summoned to the Arapahoe County courts for jury duty. On my way in to do my civic duty, I had to pass through an Arapahoe County Sheriff’s office security point. In my pocket, I had a tiny Swiss Army knife – one of the little $10 models with a nail file and a <1″ blade. A Sheriff’s deputy made me take it out to leave in my truck, stating it was classified as a “weapon.”
“Seriously?” I said. “This?”
“I know,” the deputy replied. “I don’t make the rules.” He looked embarrassed. I know I would have been, in his place.
But back to the TSA. Why don’t we just chuck the TSA while we’re chucking the Imperial air-traffic control system? Privatize the whole shebang – I’ll bet next week’s invoice that airport security will be faster, more efficient and more thorough.
If that pisses off Chuck Schumer, well, consider that a bonus.
Better yet – make one more thing a part of the security contract: Take a few lessons from the Israelis. While our TSA folks look for weapons, the Isreali security folks look for terrorists. They profile – oh, hell yeah, they profile – and their agents are trained to spot behavioral cues, to spot when someone is lying to them.
Let’s convert our airport security theater into something that’s actually effective.