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"...I assumed that this was another such check."
August 22, 2013 11:19 PM   Subscribe

Don't fly during Ramadan. Aditya Mukerjee describes his experience while attempting to clear the U.S. Transportation Security Administration's checks and board a JetBlue flight. After being cleared by the TSA, following two hours of questioning and checks, Mukerjee was prevented by JetBlue from boarding his intended flight. He was offered rebooking for the following day and, when he declined, given a refund.

This isn't the first time that the TSA and JetBlue have been called out for this type of action.
posted by fireoyster (149 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
These are the people we're depending on to keep our skies safe, and not only are they engaged in blatant religious/racial profiling, but they are so stupid that when Mukerjee told them he's Hindu, they failed to understand why this was significant.

Once they figured out that he wasn't carrying any weapons or explosives, why the hell couldn't he board the plane? What, precisely, is the point of all of this crap about detaining him for hours on end without charge (and while insisting that he was not being detained, while simultaneously not allowing him to leave), denying him food or water, and asking him about his career or personal life? We've all heard the term "security theater," but if this is theater then I can't imagine what its plot or point is except to convince the observer that the actors are completely incompetent imbeciles.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:37 PM on August 22, 2013 [45 favorites]


He was given a refund for that flight. He still had to purchase replacement flights, which cost him an extra $700.

This bit really jumped out at me:
"Will you have any trouble following the instructions of the crew and flight attendants on board the flight?"

"No." I had no idea why this would even be in doubt.

"We have some female flight attendants. Would you be able to follow their instructions?"

I was almost insulted by the question, but I answered calmly, “Yes, I can do that.”

"Okay," she continued, "and will you need any special treatment during your flight? Do you need a special place to pray on board the aircraft?"
What the JetBlue representative was trying to get was a publicly-acceptable excuse to deny him the right to fly, e.g., "Mr Mukerjee said that he would not follow directions from female staff" or "Mr Mukerjee demanded a special place to pray aboard the plane". This is worth knowing, because the next time an airline representative makes a claim about a passenger's behavior you can filter it through your BS detector: did the passenger really say that, or is it some garbled version of an answer to a leading question? Note that even though he didn't give them an excuse like that they denied him boarding "based on the responses you’ve given to questions".
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:44 PM on August 22, 2013 [86 favorites]


I feel for this guy! This has to have been a harrowing experience for him. Ironically, it's probably the Muslim TSA guy that helped.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:45 PM on August 22, 2013


Why do people still live in America?
Be an ex-pat like me. It's more fun.
posted by GoingToShopping at 11:46 PM on August 22, 2013 [5 favorites]


The helplessness. Chilling indeed.
posted by unliteral at 11:48 PM on August 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not only are they racially profiling dickholes, they're incompetent racially profiling dickholes.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:49 PM on August 22, 2013 [16 favorites]


Hey, the guy had a bad enough day without you calling him a dickhole.
posted by gingerest at 11:57 PM on August 22, 2013 [17 favorites]


What, precisely, is the point of all of this crap about detaining him for hours on end without charge (and while insisting that he was not being detained, while simultaneously not allowing him to leave), denying him food or water, and asking him about his career or personal life?

Intimidation.

I say it all the time, and i regularly get reactions from people who aren't close friends along the lines of "Oooook man" like you'd give a conspiracy theorist or extreme "i've popped the red pill!" college freshmen political opinion spouting guy.

But really, when you read this whole thing didn't a lot of that read like it could have come from some handbook on a really basic level 1, prologue version of the kind of interrogation techniques the government uses anyways? like that this is the saliva in the mouth of the digestive system that is gizmo and other various facilities and the techniques therein that the US government uses? Like i can see it being in some handbook, or at least word of mouth training to "soften them up" by denying them water and constantly switching who they were talking to, repeating questions a lot, wording questions oddly, and just generally trying to put the pressure and stress to the max.

Because really, this just reads to me like it was all there to scare him in to slipping over his words and giving the "wrong" answer to a leading question at which point they could go AHA! so *huge pile of leading questions* while he stammered "NO, that's not what i meant!".

I just heard of nearly exact the same thing as that happening to a friend of mine. A cop was standing around twirling and juggling his nightstick and staring menacingly at him and the rest of the group of people. He asked the cop why he was doing that, and noted it was intimidating. Queue massive chain of intimidation bullshit and loaded/leading questions("Well why are you intimidated if you're not doing anything wrong?" "Are you intimidated by the fact that i have a gun?").

This is the MO of city and county police departments(at least in washington, curiously, the state patrol is professional-ish), homeland security, the TSA. It's a mix of loaded questions and "jokes" that if you are at all ever offended by they double down on drilling you because WOAH MAN IT WAS JUST A JOKE WHY ARE YOU SO UNCOMFORTABLE, WHAT'S MAKING YOU NERVOUS/UPSET?

It's all about power, and feeling like they're in control. Questioning that or reacting in any way negatively to it is being "combative" or "aggressive" or "resisting" or any number of other terms that place the onus on you for doing anything but laying down and taking it.

I don't really know where i'm going with this, but i've just seen this weird gradeschool bully fragile ego behavior from law enforcement escalating throughout my entire life. I live in a city with what seems to be one of the most quantitively awful police departments in the entire country. Their strategy a lot of the time seems to be "act as intimidating as possible and enter situations with the most aggressive and dominant possible posture". This just sounded like a cover of the same old song by a new band to me, and possibly on a bigger stage with a little bigger crowd.

It's also frightening though, on preview, on a level i kinda implied with my intro about this being a really mild foreplay version of the gitmo "enhanced interrogation" stuff delivered with a really similar attitude. If you test false positive on some chemical test or scanner like this, and they decide they don't like your answers and you're adamant about being innocent... what real barriers are there between that moment and just being black bagged and throw on the next military flight out of the country to be "interviewed"? You aren't read any rights, you aren't even technically under arrest. You just "can't leave". What are the barriers to that, and how do you even defend yourself?
posted by emptythought at 12:12 AM on August 23, 2013 [67 favorites]


You know what stereotype Muslims would appreciate? Litigious. That would work against all sorts of this type of institutional racism.

This bullshit of turning the other cheek isn't really working for us.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:25 AM on August 23, 2013 [50 favorites]


"Too many men are being driven to become government-fearing and time-serving because the Government is being permitted to strike out at those who are fearless enough to think as they please and say what they think. This trend must be halted if we are to keep faith with the Founders of our Nation and pass on to future generations of Americans the great heritage of freedom which they sacrificed so much to leave to us. The choice is clear to me. If we are to pass on that great heritage of freedom, we must return to the original language of the Bill of Rights. We must not be afraid to be free."
If you are wondering who said that and when, try Justice Hugo Black's dissenting opinion in in re Anastoplo (1961), in which the US Supreme Court upheld (yes, upheld) the Illinois Bar's decision to bar George Anastaplo, a Greek immigrant and a decorated US WWII pilot, from practicing law, after he refused to answer whether or not he was a Communist, having cited the protection afforded to him by the First Amendment. There was, of course, no evidence to prove that he was a Communist; he simply objected on principle.

Some fifty years later, you have government employee and private sector fuckwads trying to establish the voracity of your religious beliefs, in a locked room with their hands on your genitals, in order to determine your worthiness to fly. It's a particularly stunning line of questioning.

In other news.. indefinite detention. Warrantless searches. Continuous monitoring. Secret courts. Government immunity from war crimes. "Land of the free."
posted by phaedon at 12:40 AM on August 23, 2013 [35 favorites]


I had a false positive from The Machine That Goes Bing at LAX a couple of years ago. They cleared a small blast radius while they called in the Superior Officer, who then proceeded to fill out a medium-sized form, stamped it and let me get on the plane with my explosive laptop. What is this privilege I keep hearing about?
posted by you at 12:41 AM on August 23, 2013 [21 favorites]


Clearly, if a traveler with a certain racial profile sets off a chemical flag, they are no longer considered innocent despite the fact that neither indicator is illegal, infallible, nor indicative of wrongdoing.

Just like how JetBlue ran through their CYA questions before denying him from boarding, the unofficial detention and questioning was to give the various agencies time to think up and exercise a Kobayashi Maru test for Mukerjee to fail. His inability to be caught by those tests led them to escalate the situation (keeping true to form for US law enforcement) by referring his case higher up the chain to other agencies instead of concluding that he wasn't guilty of anything.

The problem is that the whole system is set up to scapegoat somebody if an incident happens, without consequences for falsely accusing and detaining innocent people. It's too easy for a guard to decide "this is a master criminal who's been well coached; call in the experts!" and too hard for one to conclude "our lowest-bidder detect-o-matic can't tell the difference between bedbug spray and explosive residue".

Instead of testing security measures by seeing if suspicious materials and/or persons can get through security undetected, I'd like them to also add a sort of secret-shopper security testing: have an undercover agent go through security with a few suspicious flags, just to see whether his rights are still respected even in the far back interrogation rooms without cameras. I doubt any crossings could pass that kind of test right now; too many wannabe Jack Bauers working in homeland security.
posted by ceribus peribus at 1:18 AM on August 23, 2013 [17 favorites]


You know what stereotype Muslims would appreciate? Litigious. That would work against all sorts of this type of institutional racism.

This assumes a lot of economic privilege, and being raised in a social background in which you're even taught that this is a possibility however.

If this happened to me(which i sincerely doubt it would since i pass as white, and have the german last name of my dads family) i certainly wouldn't be in a position to sue unless the lawyer was taking it on contingency or pro-bono.

Not to even mention the fact that kicking this dog would likely lead to you being on some de-facto no fly list for life, and possibly even your children, spouse, or family ending up on it as well. Having your file marked in some subtle way that essentially means "harass any time they attempt to cross any border of this country or board any mode of transportation that involves tsa security, which isn't just planes anymore.

It reminds me a lot of a comment on an old FPP about a guy challenging a catch-22 style national security investigation. You'd really need stones that drag on the ground, and not have much to lose to take this on. Because whatever you get out of them... do you really believe they aren't going to punch back somehow?

There would need to be a heavily backed, prominent, and perpetually visible in the media national organization which funded legal defense for this sort of harassment for that to even be an option. Something like the ACLU, but more focused like the EFF. Just set out with the explicit purpose of defending against this type of thing either in general or specifically with an antiracist bent. Because facing this alone even if i was independently wealthy would probably be a losing proposition after weighing the pros and cons and looking at my calculus on the matter.

I really feel like it would need to be more than just a few lawsuits. Lawsuits which may even successfully get slapped with some sort of gag order of "no one is allowed to talk about this outside of the court room, or go to the media" since hey, it is national security related and what if they're made to possibly be put in a position where they'd maybe have to possibly pretend like they were going to disclose some top sekrit parameters for investigation and such at airports while they're in the courtroom?

This is a really scary thing to go up against, and in doing so you'd likely come to realize if you didn't already know going in that at least in your own life, you were going to lose the war regardless of whether or not you won the battle.
posted by emptythought at 1:25 AM on August 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


I don't understand why JetBlue didn't want him on his booked flight but said they would let him on a flight the next day? Was that just to cover their asses, as in not giving him a reason to sue them, and JetBlue not being the one to have let him on the flight just in case he did blow up the plane?
posted by moody cow at 1:37 AM on August 23, 2013


I don't see any incompetence here. The TSA is doing its job very well... if you think its job is merely "keeping people with weapons from boarding aircraft", you're a naive idiot. Just like the "Voter ID" laws in many states, their purpose is to tell certain groups of people "it's too much trouble, don't bother".

And I've been on Disability/Medicare for the last 8 years and have gotten better treatment/service than I did 20 years ago when I was at a job with a "solid gold" employee insurance plan. The people who declare that The Government can't run Health Care just ignore all the other countries where it does better than the American "private system". Just say what you really mean, that you want the people who can't pay for their own heart transplants to roll over and die.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:41 AM on August 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


GoingToShopping: "Why do people still live in America?
Be an ex-pat like me. It's more fun.
"

Because there's no racism, profiling, security theater or idiocy in other countries?
posted by chavenet at 1:42 AM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Really?

Really?

We really need to do shit like this?

I had a similar issue with a CPAP a few years ago. Never mind the fact that I had the manual for the CPAP as well as a laminated scrip form for it too. It was a false explosive trigger too. (I figured later it was because I live in the Midwest, with fertilizers and issues with nitrate warnings for the water and such).

Now, they weren't such dicks, although I was publicially patted down by a huge mustachioed TSA guy named Clarence. (The last time someone touched me like that, not even counting it being in public, there was dinner and a movie first.) What really pissed me off was all the accusatory stares from bypassers. Because, of course, TSA could NOT make a mistake so therefore I was an evil person.

(As far as profiling goes, I am whiter than Wonder Bread.)

Humorously enough, I luckily did NOT miss my flight or get banned, and ended up in a discussion with another flier who had not seen my public disgrace, and recognized the shoulder bag (with the company logo on it) and we discussed CPAP therapy while waiting to board.

Another crappy thing about flying and needing CPAP therapy is the lack of outlets and space on the plane to set up means no napping for me.
posted by Samizdata at 1:47 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Oh, and despite the Russian inspired nick, my name is just about as UK as you can get, and I am predominately Scot-Irish.)
posted by Samizdata at 1:48 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want my country back, dammit.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:05 AM on August 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


Do any Islam-friendly airlines fly within the US?
posted by pracowity at 3:06 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because there's no racism, profiling, security theater or idiocy in other countries?

I have it on good authority that there are no straw men in other countries.
posted by forgetful snow at 3:17 AM on August 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


"You’ll have to understand, when a person of your… background walks into here,

Background, right.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:45 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know, one of those "Computer professionals with a BA in Economics-Statistics and Computer Science from Columbia University" types. You have to watch them.
posted by pracowity at 4:12 AM on August 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


This bit struck me:
After the pat-down, the JetBlue representative walked in and cooly introduced herself by name.

She explained, “We have some questions for you to determine whether or not you’re permitted to fly today. Have you flown on JetBlue before?”

"Yes"

"How often?"

"Maybe about ten times," I guessed.

"Ten what? Per month?"

"No, ten times total."

She paused, then asked,

"Will you have any trouble following the instructions of the crew and flight attendants on board the flight?"

"No." I had no idea why this would even be in doubt.

"We have some female flight attendants. Would you be able to follow their instructions?"

I was almost insulted by the question, but I answered calmly, “Yes, I can do that.”

"Okay," she continued, "and will you need any special treatment during your flight? Do you need a special place to pray on board the aircraft?"

Only here did it hit me.

"No," I said with a light-hearted chuckle, trying to conceal any sign of how offensive her questions were. "Thank you for asking, but I don’t need any special treatment."

She left the room, again, leaving me alone for another ten minutes or so. When she finally returned, she told me that I had passed the TSA’s inspection. “However, based on the responses you’ve given to questions, we’re not going to permit you to fly today.”

I was shocked. “What do you mean?” were the only words I could get out.

"If you’d like, we’ll rebook you for the flight tomorrow, but you can’t take the flight this afternoon, and we’re not permitting you to rebook for any flight today."
Nothing in that exchange makes sense to me, even accounting for the stupidity that Hindus aren't Muslims. It's not any better if the guy was Muslim.

Has someone genuinely formulated this as a risk management policy for employees to follow? I'm genuinely curious, because as far as I can see the decision tree looks like this:
posted by MuffinMan at 4:22 AM on August 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


Edit: like this
posted by MuffinMan at 4:29 AM on August 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I finally have a chance to share.

About 10 years ago, my father passed away, and I had spent a grueling week in Myrtle Beach with my 3 kids (I'm second generation Sicilian with an Italian name and we're all light-to-medium-skin-toned Caucasian). Grueling not only because my dad passed but it turned out my dad had a whole other secret family. Wife, three kids, and I never knew. So my brain was spinning.

During the week, my new half-sister mentioned she worked at Medieval Times as a serving wench and thought we should all get out of the house and check out a show (my half-sister turns out to be fairly awesome). We went to the dorkfest that is Medieval Times and my then-5 year old son clamored for an inflatable sword. So, sure, he got an inflatable sword.

As we were waiting to go through security at the Myrtle Beach airport, my five-year-old-son asked, "Mom, will they let me take my sword on the plane?"

And it was like someone had screamed, "I have a bomb strapped on me," such was the swooping down of TSA guards and within minutes, the police.

"Ma'am, we need you to come with us," said the friendliest of the TSA guards. My three kids (5, 11, 12) and I were led to a small, enclosed room and were told we were being detained because our party mentioned carrying a weapon.

For hours we were left alone, none of us knowing what the hell was going on. Our checked bags were removed from the airplane and searched. We were individually patted down. Our personal bags were searched again and again, by the TSA, by the police and by (I now assume because nobody introduced themselves) the FBI.

After missing our flight home we were allowed to leave, where I was able to eventually get us all back to Boston.

But to this very day, whenever any of us fly, we are automatically pulled out of line and hand searched privately (When traveling with my fiance for the first time, I apologized in advance for what would happen, and he was skeptical, but sure enough I was taken out of line).

Because my five year old son mentioned an inflatable sword.

So hell yeah, I feel this guy's pain.
posted by kinetic at 4:34 AM on August 23, 2013 [106 favorites]


The exchange is essentially "Can we use this reason to refuse your flight? No? Okay, how about this one insead?". It's a fishing expedition. Like Joe in Australia said, they had already decided to deny his flight, they were just looking for a PR friendly excuse.
posted by ceribus peribus at 4:35 AM on August 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's a fishing expedition.

And when they didn't catch any fish, they sent someone to the market to buy a fish, then said "See? We do have a fish. You cannot fly."
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:40 AM on August 23, 2013 [17 favorites]


"We’re not detaining you. You just can’t leave."

Its like the security line at the airport is some wierd constitution-free zone where you lose all of your rights, like a battlefield where everybody is an "enemy combatant".
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 4:59 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a mix of loaded questions and "jokes" that if you are at all ever offended by they double down on drilling you because WOAH MAN IT WAS JUST A JOKE WHY ARE YOU SO UNCOMFORTABLE, WHAT'S MAKING YOU NERVOUS/UPSET?

My wife and I got this treatment on our honeymoon flight. You cannot joke with them, but they can jerk your chain for personal amusement and/or because it's a mind-numbingly boring and mostly stupid job.
posted by Foosnark at 5:02 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Health care derail deleted; let's just stick to the post topic.]
posted by taz at 5:02 AM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Vis-a-vis the Jet Blue employee's questions, I think he gave them a "reason" here:

"We have some female flight attendants. Would you be able to follow their instructions?"

I was almost insulted by the question, but I answered calmly, “Yes, I can do that.”


Had he answered simply "Yes," it would have been an unambiguous answer. But, "Yes, I can do that" implies some effort or act of will involved to somebody looking for an excuse. It's the kind of thing someone says when being asked to do something a little physically challenging, like when I ask my mother if she can walk x miles or last another x minutes until we get something to eat.
posted by carmicha at 5:17 AM on August 23, 2013


Had he answered simply "Yes," it would have been an unambiguous answer. But, "Yes, I can do that" implies some effort or act of will involved to somebody looking for an excuse.

This jumped out at me as well, especially because in the context of that situation as clearly Jet Blue was looking for a reason to keep him off that plane, they would have jumped at even the teeniest sliver of a reason.

And that additional, "I can do that," could be completely misinterpreted as, "Well normally, no. I do not follow directions from women but because I'm being interrogated and want to get out of here and possibly blow up a plane, right now I will tell you that in this particular situation, I can do that."

But the whole thing is so beyond the scope of stupid because like sure, a terrorist is going to respond honestly in these cases of interrogation.
posted by kinetic at 5:29 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK, at the risk of generating a lot of negative responses I'm going to offer an alternate point of view: Let me say I totally feel for this guy and being caught in some Kafka-esq nightmare with government agents is something I hope never to experience. But I live three blocks form ground zero and I was home on 9/11. What you've seen on TV about that day? Not even close to how fucking bad it was.

Although I don't practice any organized religion I look Jewish, but I'm sometimes mistaken for being Arabic when I travel abroad. You know what my response is to a TSA agent who wants to do extra screening? I show them the address on my drivers license, then I thank for doing their job and tell them that anything they need I'll be happy to help. Seems to work out just fine.

Do I thing the TSA is a fantastic agency? Of course not -- it's mostly security theater. But if someone getting on my flight tests positive for explosive residue do I want them getting right on my plane??? Um, I'm gonna say nooooooo. Was there perhaps another side to this interaction? We have no way of knowing.

Flame on.
posted by Dean358 at 5:47 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well dang, and here I was going to end the week on a happy note.

Instead, I get to end it on an angry note.

Again.
posted by aramaic at 5:48 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


"then I thank for doing their job and tell them that anything they need I'l be happy to help"
Since you have nothing to hide, I take it you're also happy for the state to monitor all your communications as well, right?
posted by moody cow at 5:52 AM on August 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


> But if someone getting on my flight tests positive for explosive residue do I want them getting right on my plane???

What if the 'test for explosive residue' has so many false-responses that it's worthless? Still feel that warm glow of 'being kept secure'?
posted by mikelieman at 5:52 AM on August 23, 2013 [17 favorites]



Do I thing the TSA is a fantastic agency? Of course not -- it's mostly security theater. But if someone getting on my flight tests positive for explosive residue do I want them getting right on my plane??? Um, I'm gonna say nooooooo. Was there perhaps another side to this interaction? We have no way of knowing.


i) They searched his possessions as soon as this detector went off, and found nothing.
ii) They admit that the detector picks up all kinds of crap.
iii) What the fuck does the rest of his treatment have to do with your fears?
posted by lalochezia at 5:54 AM on August 23, 2013 [30 favorites]


To clarify, you're happy with extra scrutiny not because you test positive for explosive residue, but because you look Jewish and are sometimes mistaken for an Arab? How is that not racial profiling, or ineffective security?
posted by moody cow at 6:02 AM on August 23, 2013 [14 favorites]


moody cow: lower Manhattan now has more security cameras per inch than any other city in the world, except London. I have zero problem with that -- in fact, I like it. As for monitoring my communications? I'm torn. It's not the monitoring that's bad it's the potential for misuse of that information.

And I'm not saying that TSA security is effective at all. Yikes! All I'm trying to suggest -- perhaps not very well -- is that before getting bent out of shape about stories like this it's worth at least considering another point of view about the interaction he describes. And it may well be that, just as he says, it was outrageous and inappropriate. The again, there may be another side to the story and/or he might -- key word "might" -- have contributed to escalating the situation.

(Add afterburners to flames .........)
posted by Dean358 at 6:14 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


there may be another side to the story and/or he might -- key word "might" -- have contributed to escalating the situation.

Sure, there may have been.

But I can tell, that in my case of a five year old boy mentioning a sword, being detained for hours, having my children body searched by hand numerous times and ignored by officials and then for the ensuing ten years all four of us being on a flagged to fly list...

we did nothing to escalate that situation.
posted by kinetic at 6:21 AM on August 23, 2013 [29 favorites]


Holy crap. That article is terrifying, even more terrifying than I gathered from the comments here. And he thinks his house was searched as well. Insanity.
posted by sio42 at 6:23 AM on August 23, 2013


The real problem is that in addition to being racist the TSA is grossly inefficient.

If potential terrorists share characteristics, of which religion or ethnicity will only every be one part, your job as a screening organisation is to funnel people as effectively as possible so that you can devote your resources on the things that don't yield ready stop/go decisions.

[This assumes, of course, that devoting x level of resources to airport security is the best use of resources. But we'll skip over that point for the moment.]

Low barriers for putting people on no fly lists are super dumb. Not cleaning the list is dumb and renders the data nearly worthless. Security theatre that sees everyone lose their shit when someone says something they shouldn't have are dumb. Involving three or more different agencies in the basic screening process is dumb.

But above all, not training your screeners properly so they can funnel or dismiss threats is dumb. At each stage where a screener could escalate or de-escalate something there should be a protocol for progressing things - including passing up the food chain to an interrogator that actually knows what they are doing. In the absence of that training and/or protocol, you allow screeners to escalate based on their own biases.

Anne Murphy was a white, pregnant irishwoman. Samantha Lewthwaite is, apparently, a terrorist recruiter in Africa. Tactics and recruitment policies evolve. Some of the 9/11 bombers were overtly secular. Timothy McVeigh's acolytes would not be picked up by a dumb race-based screening process.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:27 AM on August 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


But I live three blocks form ground zero and I was home on 9/11

9/11 won't happen again for decades and decades, because the MO for 9/11 didn't even keep working all day. You do not need to worry about anyone flying an airline flight into a building for the rest of your life, because the 9/11 hijackers ruined hijacking for everyone. If anyone tries to hijack an airline flight (with panicky Americans) in the next few decades, the passengers will tear him into goo with their fingernails.

But if someone getting on my flight tests positive for explosive residue do I want them getting right on my plane???

Do you want to know how I can tell that you don't know what "explosives residue" is?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:30 AM on August 23, 2013 [43 favorites]


Many years ago, we flew as a family to DC from ATL. Our three-year-old son got selected for special screening, and I followed him to the side area where he just sort of looked at me while the guy did a half-assed check of his arms and legs. I asked why he'd been pulled aside. The guy looked at me with me with a straight face and said

"He's been identified as a person of interest."

YOU GOT HIM. YOU GOT THE JACKAL. EXCELLENT POLICE WORK.
posted by jquinby at 6:31 AM on August 23, 2013 [78 favorites]


Why do people still live in America?
Be an ex-pat like me. It's more fun.


I have lived abroad, and I have come back, and generally there are pluses and minuses to both living arrangements. Stories like this do not make me want to flee. They make me angry.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:39 AM on August 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I also lived a few minutes walk from WTC. I worked across the street, above the Century 21. My wife watched people jump out of the building as she held our 6-month old son.

I would be happy if we adopted some real security, but what we have now is not only ludicrous security theatre, it is evil. When 'land of the free' becomes nothing more than an ironic joke, then maybe the terrorists haven't won, but we have definitely lost.

I wish everyone in this country who would trade even one iota of their liberty for some temporary safety would just seal themselves up in a bunker somewhere and stop interfering with my dangerous, messy, constitutional republic.
posted by bashos_frog at 6:43 AM on August 23, 2013 [34 favorites]


Dean358, I do not understand. You are pleased that you and your neighbors are forced to go through insane nonsense that couldn't possibly, in any universe, do anything to keep any of you safe because you are scared over an unrelated attack that happened 12 years ago? What you've said makes no sense. I'm a native New Yorker and have friends who were killed on 9/11, but that doesn't mean I put a lollipop up my butt and wear a shaving cream Santa beard whenever a TSA person tells me I am required to do so.
posted by 1adam12 at 6:49 AM on August 23, 2013 [30 favorites]


lower Manhattan now has more security cameras per inch than any other city in the world, except London. I have zero problem with that -- in fact, I like it. As for monitoring my communications? I'm torn. It's not the monitoring that's bad it's the potential for misuse of that information.

I assume you feel this way because you believe that you have "nothing to hide" as they say, or that you are confident that you live on the "right side of the law"? But just remember that you are not the one who gets to decide whether or not you have something to hide. And norms shift in that regard, sometimes quite rapidly, and that danger is just as real as some terrorist attack.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:50 AM on August 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


From the article in that second link (emphasis mine):

ACLU attorney Aden Fine, who represented Jarrar, also called it a victory. "A $240,000 award should send a clear and strong message to all TSA officials and to all airlines that what happened here is wrong and should not happen again," he said.

The TSA screeners -- Garfield Harris and Franco Trotta -- declined comment, referring questions to their attorneys, who also declined comment, and the TSA.

TSA spokesman Christopher White, while noting that the TSA was not a party to the suit, said "There is absolutely no intention to take disciplinary action against the employees involved."


Message not received.
posted by jquinby at 6:52 AM on August 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


Although I don't practice any organized religion I look Jewish, but I'm sometimes mistaken for being Arabic when I travel abroad. You know what my response is to a TSA agent who wants to do extra screening? I show them the address on my drivers license, then I thank for doing their job and tell them that anything they need I'll be happy to help. Seems to work out just fine.

If you think the TSA's screening practises are making you safer, more fool you.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:52 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


YOU GOT HIM. YOU GOT THE JACKAL. EXCELLENT POLICE WORK.

Hope to Glob that doesn't happen with our three year old. His first response would be to pull out his "gun shooters" (fingers) and yell that he'll "jail-kill" everybody.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:54 AM on August 23, 2013 [12 favorites]


I don't think the terrorists give a shit about planes per se. They could meet their goals just as effectively by blowing themselves up in line while the rest of us wait to be screened by TSA. So these checks provide no actual security at all. Either they are designed for some other purpose or no one is thinking about these issues clearly. Neither option is comforting.
posted by askmehow at 6:57 AM on August 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


As an Indian American who frequently flies JetBlue Im totally horrified by this story. Also somewhat thankful most people can't figure out my ethnicity on sight and usually think I am Hispanic, although my last name pegs me as ethnically Indian Hindu, like the author of this piece's last name does, like Sunil Tripathi's does.

Still days after 9/11 in Boston, I was in a doctors waiting room talking to a fellow patient whose last name was Israel and the nurse was like isn't that hope for the future, [sweetkids Indian last name] and Israel, talking in peace at a time like this.

I knew at that moment people of Indian Hindu ethnicity would be dragged into all this crap along with the Muslims and Arabs who also do not deserve it at all.
posted by sweetkid at 6:58 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


robocop is bleeding: "His first response would be to pull out his "gun shooters" (fingers) and yell that he'll "jail-kill" everybody."

Total coin toss, man. Everyone either has a 70's sitcom-end-credit-laughing-moment, or you spend the remainder of the day dealing with the whole circus.
posted by jquinby at 6:59 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


...but if you're brown, I'd bet on the circus.
posted by jquinby at 7:02 AM on August 23, 2013


I'm scared of flying to the US right now. And I want to fly there, I have friends there in lots of awesome places. But I'm not white, and the idea of being powerless in a place where my rights don't mean a thing terrifies me.
posted by Omnomnom at 7:12 AM on August 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also, I know people here hate him, but this ist totally Cory Doctorow territory, isn't it?
posted by Omnomnom at 7:13 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


What I still don't understand, and probably never will, is that 9/11 happened because some guys who were willing to die and kill for their beliefs and used nothing more their barehands and some boxcutters...so all this screening for explosives is in response to what?

I mean, the NSA/SkyNet is gathering all the bytes of humanity and the best we can do with that is harrass children about fake swords and allow airlines to deny someone boarding even after several goverment agencies cleared him?

Really? Ah, theatre...pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Because this seems the least logical and efficient use of resources possible unless NSA is finding info that says there is an imminent plot EVERY FREAKING DAY.
posted by sio42 at 7:13 AM on August 23, 2013


That's OK. There's always the bus and train. Oh, wait:

With little fanfare, the agency best known for airport screenings has vastly expanded its reach to sporting events, music festivals, rodeos, highway weigh stations and train terminals. Not everyone is happy.

Rodeos.

I think we're totally off the cliff at this point. TSA employs too many people and commands a pretty substantial budget. It's never going away. Too many jobs, too much budget appropriated.
posted by jquinby at 7:16 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I always used to worry about getting swabbed down with their "explosive residue" detectors because I worked in a chemistry lab. I also wasn't careful and would frequently spill things on my hands and clothes. I am still amazed that I am not on some list (please NSA guy don't put me on one for kicks) especially as being a chemist I actually have the knowledge to make some pretty gnarly explosives. I've actually made some guncotton and nitrogen triiodide before and it is a lot of fun. I especially enjoyed making TATP because a small amount of the crystals in your hand when hit with a flame from a grill igniter went poof and made a big flame but absolutely no ash, really cool magic trick level stuff. Whenever I would head though I would always wonder what exactly they were looking for and how anything that I had been making earlier could be a false positive. I was a little worried when I was making a lot of nitroaromatic compounds for reductive aminations to generate a small library of screening compounds. (Nitroaromatics = TNT)

At least I am white and would raise quite a stink about being searched in an obscene manner. I once threatened to strip naked in the airport because I was selected for "special screening" and I don't really have much shame. The lady running the machines says I was selected for special screening and I needed to go stand over to the side. I replied "nah we can just do this right here" and starting taking off my shirt. She stopped me and said no it is just an explosives screen and I managed to get whisked through the screen rather quickly.

I wish there was a way to get from England to Vermont in a single day that didn't involve flying but a boat takes a week and I still haven't cracked quantum teleportation yet.
posted by koolkat at 7:20 AM on August 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Dean358: "I look Jewish, but I'm sometimes mistaken for being Arabic when I travel abroad."

Well, I am a Jew and a swarthy one at that. I was once held up and interrogated by El Al security before they allowed me to board my flight from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv because I raised all kinds of flags. I was a young, single woman and was dropped off by my Iranian, male friend.

They were polite (well, for Israelis) and asked all kinds of pertinent and (seemingly) impertinent questions. In my presence, they went through my luggage in a very thorough fashion, like taking my hair dryer apart and taking body products away to have them tested. They followed up on my answers by calling the people I told them I'd be staying with, and checking my other credentials.

Once they determined it was unlikely I was a threat -- I reckon because everything checked out since I'm not a terrorist -- they let me continue on. I felt very, very violated, but I understood their reasons, and they'd treated me respectfully.

And yes, then Customs had to do their thing and subjected me to a thorough body search which almost brought me to tears (I was young) but again, they were polite about it and I understood the reasons.

But this guy's story, I don't understand any of it. The machine went off, but it turned out to be a false positive, because they didn't find anything in his luggage or on his person. Why subject him to this, what, 18+ hour ordeal? How does this incompetence kicking responsbilty up the food chain offer anyone any security? And I can only imagine how horribly violated he must have felt the way he was treated, even before he noticed the missing photo.

Ugh.
posted by moody cow at 7:20 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


As we were waiting to go through security at the Myrtle Beach airport, my five-year-old-son asked, "Mom, will they let me take my sword on the plane?"

I used to be afraid of flying because I was afraid of the plane crashing. Now I'm afraid of flying because I'm accompanied by my child, who has Asperger's syndrome and no filter between his brain and his mouth. I hold my breath through the security line hoping he doesn't make a joke. In flight, I find myself praying that he doesn't say "There's a bomb on the plane" because he wants me to say "A b..." so he can say "No, not a 'b', a bomb." and we end up on the national news after our flight to Chicago has an emergency landing in Charlotte and we wind up in jail.
posted by Daily Alice at 7:28 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


TSA employs too many people and commands a pretty substantial budget. It's never going away. Too many jobs, too much budget appropriated.

I think the goal to move toward is not "Let's get rid of the TSA" or "Let's eliminate racial profiling". The first one is not going to happen in the current political climate; the second one would involve figuring out motive.

Instead, the short-term, concrete goal should be to make clear the parameters under which the TSA can detain someone, and for how long.
posted by dubold at 7:52 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I also lived a few minutes walk from WTC. I worked across the street, above the Century 21. My wife watched people jump out of the building as she held our 6-month old son.

I would be happy if we adopted some real security, but what we have now is not only ludicrous security theatre, it is evil. When 'land of the free' becomes nothing more than an ironic joke, then maybe the terrorists haven't won, but we have definitely lost.



bashos_frog I'm very sorry your wife had to experience that and I hope she has been able to put it behind her. And you and others make excellent points about the downsides of trading liberty for safety (or "perceived safety," I sense some of you about to type). But you say you "lived" down here -- do you still? My wife and I still do and we have no intention of moving -- this is our home.

We've watched with pride and joy as lower Manhattan is being rebuilt: The Memorial, the new Calatrava designed Path station, the Fulton Street transit hub (and the Corbin building next to it!) 5 Beekman street, etc, etc. The soaring new architecture will be majestic and inspiring when completed. It will also put a giant bullseye on our 'hood as the world's primo terrorist target. So the "liberty vs. security" trade off becomes far less of an academic discussion for us.

The TSA can act beyond ridiculous, as shown by the stories posted above about traveling with kids. But as jquinby said, Everyone either has a 70's sitcom-end-credit-laughing-moment, or you spend the remainder of the day dealing with the whole circus. I find keeping a sense of humor while dealing with them goes a long way.
posted by Dean358 at 8:03 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dean358, no matter how much you talk about "liberty vs security tradeoff" it just seems like you think it's totally understandable that anyone vaguely brown should be harassed (at best) and held for 18 hours without food, water, or even arrest (at not even the worst). Because 9/11.
posted by sweetkid at 8:11 AM on August 23, 2013 [23 favorites]


I flew from DTW to PHX on Oct 10, 2001. There were still Reserves guys in the halls with machine guns, guys with dogs everywhere, and I was stopped by a brand-new TSA agent at the hastily erected security checkpoint in the hallway at DTW. He upended my suitcase and dumped out the contents on a table (they're better about this now, at least), because I was wearing a Grateful Dead shirt, and he figured he'd get an easy drug score. He didn't find anything, because I'm straight edge and just liked the shirt. He was disappointed, until he found a small bag full of plastic-wrapped tube-shaped items.

"So explain THIS!" he announced triumphantly, to all in the area.

I pressed my lips together to keep from laughing, because I didn't want to upset the TSA guy, when the Reserves guy was standing there with a drug dog and a machine gun 10 feet away. Thankfully, a female TSA guard came over and frantically whispered in his ear. His eyes bugged out, and he tossed away the bag of tampons like a snake had bit him. I couldn't resist at that point - I started laughing. She smacked him on the back of the head, sent him away, and quietly finished the search. I was then permitted to repack my luggage and get on the plane.

I doubt it would go as well now.

I haven't flown anywhere with my husband in the last three years, since my husband got an insulin pump. There are just too many negative stories out there. I used to love flying, now I hate it when I do it for work. It's just too fraught with chaos. I'm more worried about being detained by the TSA than being blown up by a terrorist, and that's screwed up.
posted by RogueTech at 8:16 AM on August 23, 2013 [18 favorites]


Nope. I must respectfully disagree with your characterization, sweetkid. I don't think anyone should be harassed the way he describes for any reason whatsoever. And certainly not by the TSA. I am however, questioning the validity of his story and asking is it at all possible that there might be another side to this tale?
posted by Dean358 at 8:16 AM on August 23, 2013


Like what? He really is an Indian American Hindu terrorist?
posted by sweetkid at 8:21 AM on August 23, 2013 [17 favorites]


God, it never fucking ends, does it. Do you think he was making it up for attention? Or are you just assuming that he must have done something wrong or suspicious because omg so scary he's not white?
posted by elizardbits at 8:22 AM on August 23, 2013 [32 favorites]


I am however, questioning the validity of his story and asking is it at all possible that there might be another side to this tale?

No you pretty clearly went on a diatribe about how this is all ok because of 911 and then told everyone you were ready for the flames. Now that you've gotten some you are backtracking.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:22 AM on August 23, 2013 [32 favorites]


This is known as the Schroedinger's Douchebag gambit.
posted by elizardbits at 8:25 AM on August 23, 2013 [27 favorites]


And hell yeah Dean358, of course there could be more to it. He may have been eye-rolling and tsking his tongue and had a voice dripping with sarcasm and sweaty and fidgety. Of course he could have been behaving suspiciously.

But let's not miss the greater point that they found no reason to detain this man but detained him anyway and then didn't allow him on his plane and very possibly illegally entered his home.

I mean, come on.
posted by kinetic at 8:25 AM on August 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


I look Jewish

You know what Jews look like now? Everybody.

You know what Jews looked like in ye olden days? The same as Muslims, because they came from the same fucking area.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:27 AM on August 23, 2013 [15 favorites]


Nothing is illegal if the government does it.
posted by tommasz at 8:28 AM on August 23, 2013


to be fair Muslims look like a lot of different things, too.
posted by sweetkid at 8:29 AM on August 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


*sigh* I don't believe I'm backing tracking at all, but if my posts aren't clear I apologize for my poor writing. None of us were there, so we're accepting 100% that this is exactly what happened, and there isn't even the possibility that there could a little more to the story. Doesn't that sound like the MO of FOX News / Glenn Beck and his ilk? Put out a story as incontrovertible fact and then use that to stoke anger for ratings.
posted by Dean358 at 8:30 AM on August 23, 2013


What I find hard to believe is people who, despite repeated instances of the TSA doing this sort of thing, that there people who will STILL say "aw, c'mon, i'm sure they had a good reason to detain him. we're not getting the whole story."
posted by sio42 at 8:31 AM on August 23, 2013 [15 favorites]


What does this have to do with Glenn Beck or ratings? This guy wrote this on his own blog.
posted by sweetkid at 8:33 AM on August 23, 2013


What ratings are being stoked? The rating of minorities?
posted by elizardbits at 8:33 AM on August 23, 2013 [12 favorites]


I'm not sure why I have to read this guy's story, which sounds right in line with all the other stories I've heard about non-white people being treated very crappily by the TSA and various airlines, and then immediately assume that this guy must be lying. I think it's really weird to do that.
posted by palomar at 8:35 AM on August 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


i wanna know what the criteria are if i am being rated, i didnt realize there was going to be an exam, is there a handout or something
posted by elizardbits at 8:35 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]



What ratings are being stoked? The rating of minorities?

OMG everybody watch Mindy Project we finally got a TV show.

Raise minority ratings.
posted by sweetkid at 8:35 AM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


WHAT MORE COULD THERE BE TO THE STORY? He was let go -- eventually. Apparently, despite the colour of his skin and his weird non-muslim religion, he was not a bomb-carrying terrorist.
posted by moody cow at 8:36 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well... good day to be an atheist?
posted by GoingToShopping at 8:37 AM on August 23, 2013


Quick point of order to head off a derail I've seen develop in discussions on other sites: he wasn't held for 18 hours; his total airport time was around 4-5 hours. It was 10:40 when he got in line, JetBlue had rescinded his ticket by 12:35, and he was finally released around 2:20.

The 18 hour figure was how long it had been since the last time he had eaten or drank, because he skipped breakfast that morning. It's bad enough without accidentally overstating the incident.
posted by ceribus peribus at 8:39 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]



Well... good day to be an atheist?


Excellent day for Merica to learn what Hindus actually are/believe and the history of Hindu/Muslim animosity which is actually very violent and sad but would clear up how the religions are not on any kind of continuum.
posted by sweetkid at 8:39 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The analogy to Glenn Beck is that his format allows for absolutely no questioning / discussion / thoughtful evaluation of what he says. So is it the same here? Even raising the very idea that a single sided blog post may not convey exactly what happened with 100% accuracy is verboten? And much like ridiculous talk radio thrives on anger, net postings can often drift in that direction too. (Although thankfully not so much on metafilter.)
posted by Dean358 at 8:40 AM on August 23, 2013


Well... good day to be an atheist?

Unless you're a slutty-looking* 15 year old girl.


*NOTE: Not that it matters, but "slutty" in this case meant a long-sleeve shirt and pants.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:41 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


The analogy to Glenn Beck is that his format allows for absolutely no questioning / discussion / thoughtful evaluation of what he says. So is it the same here?

No.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:43 AM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Even raising the very idea that a single sided blog post may not convey exactly what happened with 100% accuracy is verboten?

Given that there's well-documented evidence of exactly this kind of thing happening many times, what reason do we have to doubt his story?
posted by zombieflanders at 8:43 AM on August 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Be an ex-pat like me. It's more fun.

Particularly the part where you have almost no rights at all and people routinely discussing curtailing the few you have or kicking you out of the country. Then there is the joy of immigration confusion every single time you recross the border....
posted by srboisvert at 8:45 AM on August 23, 2013


I don't believe his story is recounted with 100% accuracy simply because I don't believe humans are capable of reporting anything with 100% accuracy because of the nature of memory, emotional filters, how our brains process information etc.

However, I still don't think that means that there's "another side" to the story, which seems to imply he was doing something dangerous or "deserved" it somehow.
posted by sweetkid at 8:45 AM on August 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


Maybe we need our own Thread Advisory System:

SEVERE: Flag It And Move On
HIGH: Hoppita Moppita
ELEVATED: Grar
GUARDED: Hamburger
LOW: Post your cat pics
posted by jquinby at 8:46 AM on August 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


If somebody says they're a white person who has never had trouble with TSA, are we supposed to be skeptical of that, too? When the skepticism applies only to people you want to be wrong, that's not just you being reasonable and unbiased.
posted by Sequence at 8:49 AM on August 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm a brown person who has never had trouble with TSA, even though people have said "with that last name you must have had 'special screening'" no, I haven't, where does my story go on the believability list?
posted by sweetkid at 8:51 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Burnt umber.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:57 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am still amazed that I am not on some list (please NSA guy don't put me on one for kicks) especially as being a chemist I actually have the knowledge to make some pretty gnarly explosives. I've actually made some guncotton and nitrogen triiodide before and it is a lot of fun.


...Well, now you're definitely on the list.
posted by Gordafarin at 9:02 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I always thought Hoppita Moppita merited a DEFCON elevENTY1!12!!1
posted by moody cow at 9:10 AM on August 23, 2013


...Well, now you're definitely on the list.

Ironically I don't work in a lab anymore and do all of my science on the computer so I'm as dangerous as an accountant.
posted by koolkat at 9:14 AM on August 23, 2013


koolkat: "so I'm as dangerous as an accountant."

Not reassuring!
posted by chavenet at 9:30 AM on August 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


[this] format allows for absolutely no...discussion / thoughtful evaluation of what he says

So it's like a TSA screening then?
posted by cjelli at 9:32 AM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh well, why not. Despite the unfortunate, and perhaps unnecessary, events highlighted in the post. It might be noted that the number of new immigrants from predominantly or significantly Muslim countries has continued to increase during the last 10 to 15 years--almost always doubling and most often tripling or more. Nor is there any evidence that immigration or travel to the United States by countries of "brown" skinned persons has been negatively effected. This specific link might be useful as an over view of immigration patterns. I know, I know--the type of event in this post should never happen but apparently it does not dissuade immigration and travel from the residents of the countries most effected. And I also know that there are many reasons to immigrate and travel to the US--but just trying to keep things in a bit of perspective. As for the poster who asked--why would anyone want to live in the US. I imagine this is best answered by those immigrating to the States. I prefer to reside in Ireland but I have no problem and look forward to my time and citizenship in the United States
posted by rmhsinc at 10:05 AM on August 23, 2013


I'm pretty sure Aditya Mukerjee is an American, so I'm not sure what immigration from significantly Muslim countries has to do with anything? He's also not Muslim.

I don't understand at all why your comment is all about immigration.
posted by sweetkid at 10:24 AM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


sweetkid--is it really that oblique. I was simply looking at available hard data about persons voluntarily traveling (flying) to the US and traveling with in the US. I read the complete article and am well aware of his background. This issue, and any related to the TSA, always brings up the anecdote/horror story/misjustice of the day. Most often without discussing it in the larger context of a statistically normal distribution of events that naturally occur when millions of those events are occurring.
posted by rmhsinc at 10:35 AM on August 23, 2013


> Most often without discussing it in the larger context of a statistically normal distribution of events that naturally occur when millions of those events are occurring.

In the U.S., many more white people fly domestically than people of color. And some of them are detained, but none of them have had this specific thing happen to them, because it's something that happens only to people of color. (Try to state with a straight face that the JetBlue representative would ever ask a white person if they needed a place to pray on the plane.)

It's the disparity that's the problem. I don't mind someone being questioned if they test positive for explosive residue; I mind someone being treated the way this man was under the mindset that it's normal and prudent for someone of his "background."
posted by savetheclocktower at 10:44 AM on August 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


rmhsinc You're bringing up immigration patterns from Muslim countries in an article about harassment for a nonMuslim American. The issue is that he's an American flying inside the country like people do, and he's been treated like a foreign threat, which only happens to certain people. Your bringing up immigration makes it seem like you're thinking this issue has something to do with immigration, which it doesn't.
posted by sweetkid at 10:45 AM on August 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm going to have to fly into the country on 9/11 after a business trip. My passport photo has me with a full head of hair and beard, neither of which I still have.

My coworkers and I have been joking about how I'll be subjected to body cavity searches and blow the project deadline because I'll be in Gitmo, but honestly? If I weren't blue-eyed with damn near translucent skin and an English last name? I'd ask the travel agent to bump me back a day.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:53 AM on August 23, 2013


Gawker coverage highlights ( but doesn't name /link specifically besides a link to this page) Joe in Australia's point in this thread about JetBlue's questions
posted by Bwithh at 11:01 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is known as the Schroedinger's Douchebag gambit.

LOL. There is nothing more contemptible than a douchebag in superposition and entangled with a metafilter thread.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:05 AM on August 23, 2013


savetheclocktower:"I don't mind someone being questioned if they test positive for explosive residue; I mind someone being treated the way this man was under the mindset that it's normal and prudent for someone of his "background" ". I do understand--but I don't know what the incidence is of people of his "background" who go through TSA being treated this way. I am absolutely positive that it is more frequent than white/blue eyed/women etc. What I do not know given the billions (yes billions) of people going through TSA what the distribution of experiences are for persons representing this/similar gentleman's subset. But I will move on until the next opportunity to embarrass myself or inflame most of the MeFites--thanks for your response.
posted by rmhsinc at 11:20 AM on August 23, 2013


Wow, did anyone read the ending to this article? Really chilling.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:21 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know what the incidence is of people of his "background" who go through TSA being treated this way. I am absolutely positive that it is more frequent than white/blue eyed/women etc. What I do not know given the billions (yes billions) of people going through TSA what the distribution of experiences are for persons representing this/similar gentleman's subset

Why does it matter how many? This shouldn't have happened at all. Even setting aside the fact that Muslims shouldn't be targeted, itself a huge thing to set aside, it's frankly terrifying that people whose job it is to manage security, who have also decided that a certain religion/ethnic group is responsible for endangering security, cannot correctly identify whether or not a person is of the religious/ethnic group that they've decided is so dangerous.

And that's only a small part of what's so terrifying about this story.
posted by sweetkid at 11:25 AM on August 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


As we were waiting to go through security at the Myrtle Beach airport, my five-year-old-son asked, "Mom, will they let me take my sword on the plane?"

I remember being 6 or something , at a Shanghai or Beijing airport in the mid-80s, earnestly anxiously asking my mom if I needed to report the pink plastic AK-47 I carried ( fairly common in China at that time to have plastic toy guns like this filled with cheap candy) and I even shyly asked a Chinese armed guard . They just laughed me off and waved me away.
posted by Bwithh at 11:26 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ten years ago I would have thought the thing about the picture in the apartment was a dramatic over-reach for the sake of adding flair to the story, or maybe a paranoid misapprehension by someone who had gone through a stressful event. Now, I have little doubt that there is a possibility his apartment was visited by someone.
posted by threeants at 11:28 AM on August 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


I am completely shocked at how 'I can do that" is apparently super fucking fishy to them. WHAT THE HELL?!?
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:35 AM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm just gobsmacked at the whole "female attendants" question. They know Muslims fly on planes constantly right? How else would they travel, covered wagon caravan? Most flight attendants I have seen are female, or I've at least never been on an all male crewed plane. So if it were true that Muslims can't listen to female flight attendants -- I mean it just doesn't make any sense, my head hurts. She must have just been fucking with him.
posted by sweetkid at 11:39 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


And that additional, "I can do that," could be completely misinterpreted as, "Well normally, no. I do not follow directions from women but because I'm being interrogated and want to get out of here and possibly blow up a plane, right now I will tell you that in this particular situation, I can do that."

I didn't read it that way at all. I read it as someone irritated at an insulting and weird question dropping a bit of snark. You can debate the whether it was a "wrong answer" like that scene in the fifth element, but I completely understand it. Whenever someone bullies or pushes me for no good reason I always end up getting snarky and sarcastic.

I also really hate that in this situation they're allowed to be as snarky and sarcastic as they want("what's the limit on it?") but as soon as he drops even a tiny bit AHA, JUSTIFICATION.

Suggesting that being annoyed and getting a little bit snarky makes their actions somehow more understandable is kinda fucked up. I get that they were fishing, but that's so goddamn thin and pretty fucked up.

It's like this scene, but if they had gone "AHA GET HIM".

I mean I get how you bullshitted up that explanation, but anyone even thinking that and not cracking up is obviously insane or has bought in to some bizarre framework of how they think the world works.
posted by emptythought at 11:43 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sure, that's how anyone would read it, including the JetBlue rep. But they're looking for an opening to intentionally misinterpret the answers in order to find justification.

It's like the Jewish entrance exams; a set of questions given to a targeted demographic which are designed to be impossible to answer correctly.
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:58 AM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


sweetkid--no it should not have happened but it will continue to happen. There are 47,000 TSA screeners--if 95.5 percent( 2 S.D.) of them are adequately trained and courteous that still leaves several thousand being excellent and several thousand being really really bad. I do not think you can do much better than that regardless of recruiting, training, supervision, etc. I try and look at these incidents in the context of what is realistic and that which is ideal. I certainly shoot for more than what is realistic but I try to not catastrophize when the ideal is not achieved. I do (obviously ) find it personally frustrating when the specific is generalized without data to support it. I often see this as just another type of stereotyping that clouds reasonable discussion and solutions.
posted by rmhsinc at 12:00 PM on August 23, 2013


I get that they were fishing, but that's so goddamn thin and pretty fucked up.

So here's the thing, when you work for an organization that size, a lot of the time what you're doing is ass-covering so you don't get blamed. I worked for a large organization selling products and our meetings were pretty much like those Japanese samurai movies where everyone sits around the table and tries to embarrass each other in front of the shogun and the battle is almost secondary. We never had one about "How do we sell more stuff?" it was always "Who fucked up and how can we pile on blame?"

Like if you're the guy that says this guy can go through and he does anything at all, who's ass is on the line? It's yours. But you're not going to get in any trouble for passing the buck and if you can pass it successfully, your department is blameless. You did your job and evaluated the best you could, then passed it off. At the end of the musical chairs of buck-passing, JetBlue got stuck holding the bag and now they're getting hammered for it BUT if you were the one who let the guy through and he did anything, even something like "Snored really loudly and annoyed the guy next to him", guys in suits would come rampaging through demanding to know why you decided to let a guy on a plane that had EXPLOSIVE RESIDUE ON HIM OH MY GOD HOW COULD YOU BE SO STUPID.

Which isn't a justification by any means but if you look at this through the lens of "Who is trying to cover their ass in the meetings", it all makes sense.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:02 PM on August 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


here are 47,000 TSA screeners--if 95.5 percent( 2 S.D.) of them are adequately trained and courteous that still leaves several thousand being excellent and several thousand being really really bad.

The profiling extended far beyond TSA and the actual removal from the flight came from JetBlue itself.

I try to not catastrophize when the ideal is not achieved.


I am guessing you are not in a demographic that is targeted/racially profiled while flying. So you can think academically about ideals and such and casually brush off that this is a reality for people.
posted by sweetkid at 12:04 PM on August 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


So is the stuff they did to him at the airport legal but the apparent secret apartment search ( and seizure of photo ) illegal? or is that legal too
posted by Bwithh at 12:05 PM on August 23, 2013


It's not illegal if you can't prove they did it.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:07 PM on August 23, 2013


if 95.5 percent( 2 S.D.) of them are adequately trained and courteous

This seems like a stretch.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:15 PM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I do not remember saying anything about brushing off or being casual--I did say it should not happen and one should work towards the ideal. And you are right--I am about as white middle-upper-middle class America as one can be--but do not think for a minute that means I have been issued a "skip jail" and go free card in other spects of life. The learned phrase "shit happens" is very true. For me just does not happen to be ethnicity or national origin. And Alfiewine... I think you are right, I was just making the point to the extreme. Actually, you could expect about 70% to be well trained and courteous--leaving 15% on the extremes of excellence and crap.
posted by rmhsinc at 12:23 PM on August 23, 2013


Even raising the very idea that a single sided blog post may not convey exactly what happened with 100% accuracy is verboten?

I think you better have a damn good reason if you want to go down that road, and be making a really good point. Not just nebulously going "lets devils advocate and look at this from the other side", but like an actual point by point "These are what i perceive as holes in the story".

Because no, any time a woman comes out talking about sexism, or a minority comes out talking about profiling or harassment there's always some smirking jackass who rolls in to go "But this is just one side of the story from someone who's ~upset~ and involved in the situation. Don't you think there's more to this than their outrage, and that this might be a bit outragebaity?"

If it happened with every post about everything in that way it would be annoying but it wouldn't bother me as much. What gets me is that it always seems to come up in these discussions. And that, to me at least, it always carries the subtext of some kind of weird "Now i'm uncomfortable with someone getting to automatically call harassment or racism and it not being questioned at all because i'm white and what if suddenly i was the bad guy? i'd want some recourse ahhh FALSE ACCUSATIONS!!!".

The framing of the rest of your post with the tired old standbys of "I thought *THIS SITE* was better than this", comparisons to shitty talk radio hosts, etc. REALLY isn't helping me take your point here in the best of light either. You just sound like another tiresome footsoldier in the army of people who always comes out to try and be the super brave devils advocate and present the counterpoint to women and minorities getting what you feel is too easy of face-value acceptance of their stories of harassment.

Is no one else here made really uncomfortable by that point of view? Like skepticism is fine, but when you're skeptical in this way and present it with this attitude it becomes more than a bit slimy and suspicious as to what your actual motives are, and what's pushing your buttons.

There are 47,000 TSA screeners--if 95.5 percent( 2 S.D.) of them are adequately trained and courteous that still leaves several thousand being excellent and several thousand being really really bad.

Ignoring the issues with it not actually being the TSA who blocked him from flying(in theory). I find it hard to believe that there's an industry in the world with customer facing employees that's this good. Disney parks maybe? On this front the TSA is worse than most in my opinion, probably down below most fast food restaurants. I've definitely witnessed absolute incompetence from them first hand. Like, homer simpson at the nuclear plant type incompetence.

Directly addressing that point though, does anyone really believe that jetblue made this call? I Bet it was some kind of "Yea, we flagged him XYZ, it's up to you to make the call" buck-passing going on where the TSA basically told them to not let him fly, but left it up to them to break the news. Or just said he was "Suspicious" and left them to go OH FUCK GOTTA COVER OUR ASSES.
posted by emptythought at 12:39 PM on August 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


As I get older, I'm now firmly convinced the phrase "To play devil's advocate for a second..." and variations thereof are really just poor code for "I'm totally a racist/misogynist, etc but me saying this makes it seem as though I am not."
posted by Kitteh at 1:27 PM on August 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


moody cow: "I always thought Hoppita Moppita merited a DEFCON elevENTY1!12!!1"

This is why we need the guide.
posted by jquinby at 1:44 PM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


emptythought: the "damn good reason(s)" for my posts are: 1.) I'm not that far away from someone who looks like the TSA thinks they should profile, I HAVE been stopped for extra security (I do a lot of international flying for work) and somehow it's never escalated as in this blog. 2.) I think that the echo chamber of social media presenting things as absolute "FACTS" is pretty scary and unhealthy for society. If you don't like my Glenn Beck example how about Michelle Bachmann? 3.) While I'm sympathetic to this poor guys plight I just thought it might be better to discuss the incident than simply rant about how evil the TSA is and lastly, 4.) I was trying to present some alternate ways of dealing with the TSA so as not to have things get our of hand, e.g., keeping a sense of humor when dealing with their insanity, being extra polite, etc.

By all means disagree with everything I've written but don't try to call me out for "smirking jackass," "racist" or "against minorities and women." Nothing could be further from the truth and I'm sorry if there's anything in my posts that gave you that impression. I try very hard to keep my posts respectful and polite, even when discussing things with people who don't share my points of view. Might I suggest you do the same?
posted by Dean358 at 1:57 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why is it our responsibility to "deal with their insanity?" What's wrong with "appalling things are happening and it is OUR job as informed citizens to demand that the insanity be dialed down?"
(Speaking as a white, blonde female traveller who flew thru the Midwest twice this summer and saw, in every single airport - from Iowa city to Dallas - predatory bottom-feeding bullying behavior that read right out the stuff we used to read in the eighties, back when we were being told how wonderful our free western world was, compared to over in the USSR where they liked to keep their own folks scared. Yes, I'm making the comparison. Because that's the sort of petty BS I saw, and have been seeing since 9/11 - not a few bad apples, but an institutionalized policy of 'because I CAN, that's why. And if you got a problem - do you really want to fly today? Or some other time?" And it's getting WORSE.)
Our responsibility to deal with their insanity, my hind foot.
posted by tabubilgirl at 2:10 PM on August 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


By all means disagree with everything I've written but don't try to call me out for "smirking jackass,"

I wouldn't've said "smirking", but this seems like jackassery:

So the "liberty vs. security" trade off becomes far less of an academic discussion for us.

There's an implication there that we're all in some far-removed theoretical landscape while your immediate neighborhood is the only potential target for terrorists. That's incorrect. Your comments were bad.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:24 PM on August 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I HAVE been stopped for extra security (I do a lot of international flying for work) and somehow it's never escalated as in this blog.

And do you really think you have the insight on the situation to attribute this to anything but luck? I could write out a number of situations in which i wasn't stopped or otherwise confronted/questioned by law enforcement and someone else was, was detained, maybe even arrested. In every one i can think of that person was just in the wrong place at the wrong time and probably ran in to the wrong security/law enforcement officer. Why do you so desperately want to cling to this just world fallacy garbage that he must be leaving something out and must have done something wrong, or even that the story is just a fabrication?

I think that the echo chamber of social media presenting things as absolute "FACTS" is pretty scary and unhealthy for society. If you don't like my Glenn Beck example how about Michelle Bachmann?

You know, i was just jackhammering on this in a MeTa about people telling "shocking work stories!". It's like that "someone would do that, tell lies on the internet?" clip people love to bandy about.

I guess what gets me here is:

1. People love to dismiss stories about women/minorities having bad experiences, as i said above
2. This isn't an isolated incident. MANY people have come forward describing similar to very similar instances of mistreatment by the TSA and at airports in general since 9/11

I generally rank this type of thing on plausibility. And while i realize if you wanted to read it as such you could see it as just a total ragebait story designed to push all the internet liberal outrage buttons, but to what end? This guy isn't a columnist on some site trying to get pageviews, and i struggle to see how getting a bunch of "attention" for a fake story would gain him anything. Look at the context around the story, not just the story itself.

I don't even really want to get in to the internet echo chamber and people writing stuff specifically to start circlejerks, but if you really just look at this whole thing shoving it into that mold feels kinda gross and a bit square peg in a round hole-ish.

3.) While I'm sympathetic to this poor guys plight I just thought it might be better to discuss the incident than simply rant about how evil the TSA is and lastly

Then maybe, i don't know, do that? "I look kinda like this guy and nothing this shitty has ever happened to me" doesn't really lead to anything but "jeeze, thank god, i must be fucking lucky" unless you went in this with a bunch of just world preconceptions like i was saying of "well i'm not just lucky, he must have done something wrong!" and try and build a point around that.

4.) I was trying to present some alternate ways of dealing with the TSA so as not to have things get our of hand, e.g., keeping a sense of humor when dealing with their insanity, being extra polite, etc.

These things are at odds with eachother, and don't really help much of anything however. If you keep any bit of humor at all you crash in to that "NOW DONT YOU GIVE ME ANY LIP BOY" attitude as displayed in the reaction to "yea, i can do that" or any number of other points in this thread. Much less my own personal experience. You can not deal with any situation like this with any humor without getting your proverbial face stomped on for "disrespecting authority" or "dodging questions" "subject was nervous and making jokes", etc. These situations quickly become standoffish to the point that you have to deal with them calmly and absolutely seriously, and any little crack in your presentation is attacked.

I also think that no interaction with authority should hinge on "being extra polite", to continue from that point. How the fuck is that reasonable? That's like telling someone with an abusive partner to "just be extra polite and placate them, don't argue" etc. These people are bullies, and they're trained to be bullies. At any point where you need to give people that advice the fucking system has failed. That isn't a positive little quip in there, and i also think your presentation left something to be desired in the sense that it came off as someone going "well duh, i mean if you just had a better attitude and were super polite maybe this wouldn't have happened!"

It's victim blamey and shitty, ok?

By all means disagree with everything I've written but don't try to call me out for "smirking jackass," "racist" or "against minorities and women."

Maybe try not to sound like one and repeat the exact same talking points i've heard from those people a lot of times then? I always try and go in to this stuff as charitable as possible, but this is text on the internet and you were quacking like a duck here. Intent is not magical, and words on a page are words on a page. You don't get to decide how people interpret them.

You've said a lot of things in here that are really straining peoples good faith assumption muscles. I think a lot of us, or even most of us try. But when something is continuously quacking like a duck and you've seen and dealt with a lot of ducks in the past, including many who vehemently denied being ducks, you start to take any statement to the contrary while the words/actions just before that indicated otherwise with a big ass grain of salt.

But anyways, tabubilgirl:
not a few bad apples, but an institutionalized policy of 'because I CAN, that's why. And if you got a problem - do you really want to fly today? Or some other time?"

And i don't understand why, as i was just debating above, people seem to adamantly want to cling to some kind of just world fallacy that "oh, well only the bad guys get harassed. If you raise their ire you should have just been more polite or must have done something wrong to set them off.

Sometimes that "wrong thing to do" was simply to ask why something was happening, or why you were being treated the way you were. A lot of times nowadays it seems that asking questions is justification to escalate the situation on the other side and leads right to the "because i can" you were talking about. You're questioning their unassailable authority, and for that you must be punished.

This isn't hyperbole. I see law enforcement officers acting this way at a bare minimum of a couple times a month. Fairly recently on may day i was legitimately scared that i was going to get my face bashed in just for asking if i was being detained, and watched someone directly in front of me get shoved over and rammed face first into rocks embedded in a concrete fountain.

The people who think that anyone who this happens to was "doing something wrong" don't want to accept the fact that they're just lucky that they keep pulling the lever on the slot machine and getting an acceptable result. I feel like a terrible person for hoping they'll "win" some day and shut the fuck up, and maybe even join the crowd of people going "hey, this is fucked up and wrong".
posted by emptythought at 2:53 PM on August 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


I had kind of an interesting experience the other day. I was at a going-away party for a friend who's moving out of state, at the neighborhood bar. This woman, E, was also there, and we had a run-in recently over some trivial nonsense but all was forgiven. So we're talking, and she says something like, "I'm feeling weird because I want to just relax with my friends, but I feel like I have to watch what I say around you." I said, sure, I guess, like in what way? "Well, I was going to tell you that it was all good between us, because you're dot and I'm feather." I laughed and said, "Yeah, I'm glad you didn't do that."

Then she starts to get increasingly upset, saying things like "I just want to relax in my bar with my friends", and I'm like, uh, it's my bar and my friends too. "When I relax, I get loose and I say whatever, but apparently that might 'harm' you, so I'm just going to sit over here and keep my mouth shut" and on and on, she can only be 40% comfortable and that's not fair, she should just go, like coming very close to outright yelling at me.

So I'm trying to figure out what I've said to provoke that reaction, because all I really said was hey, that joke's not great, and also it's not that it's offensive, it's that it's harmful. Which doesn't seem like enough for this level of pissed-off. And then it hit me: oh, it's the fact of me. It's just the fact that I exist that's transformed her from an amiable person into a curt, angry, closed-off, uncomfortable person. Just me *being* is all that's necessary for her to feel threatened and like she's being forced into acting "PC".

That situation obviously became unpleasant fairly quickly. I was thinking about leaving, she was threatening to leave, and our friend whose party it was was trying to defuse the situation. We made up, because what else am I supposed to do, ruin my friend's party? I didn't even do anything, but now I have to grin and hug it out because someone doesn't feel sufficiently free to make racist jokes if she so desires and is throwing a fit over it.

I read about this yesterday, and I just kept seeing the same exact thing in Mukerjee's story: he is making them increasingly uncomfortable and hostile, just by being alive and in their field of vision. It's kind of a crazy thing. And as he sits there, being who he is and not who they think he is, they start to go at him harder and harder, wanting him so bad to be what they already thought, working incredibly hard to make sure they don't have to change their mind or themselves.

But anyway, I don't think you have to tell brown people that we need to be real polite and keep our heads down and laugh at all the jokes. We know what you want us to do, yo. But the problem is that even if we do all that shit, it doesn't stop people from noticing that we continue to exist, and if that's the kind of thing that bothers someone, there's not a whole lot that can be done about that on our end.
posted by Errant at 3:18 PM on August 23, 2013 [26 favorites]


Let me add an extra point here.

I travel a lot, and I take very great care to dress like an establishment white male - I wear a jacket and a shirt with a collar, but no tie, and I'm always super-careful to be completely polite and cheerful.

The TSA are rude to me every time. I don't mean most of the time, I mean all the time - and they're rude to my wife, and they're rude to everyone.

If they asked me, I would say, "Your policy of being hostile and threatening to everyone achieves exactly the wrong result. Everyone looks scared, nervous and guilty, and you have no way to distinguish the actual bad guys."

And that's just me as a 50-something white male. I don't even want to think of what it must be like to travel as a Muslim.

At a certain point, you realize that giving them the benefit of the doubt is entirely wrong - because absolutely every time that you do get any insight into their procedure, it seems to be done in the very worst possible way.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 3:21 PM on August 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


they start to go at him harder and harder, wanting him so bad to be what they already thought, working incredibly hard to make sure they don't have to change their mind or themselves

Yea, like how they didn't know what a venture capitalist does.
posted by sweetkid at 3:28 PM on August 23, 2013


lupus--well i travel a lot and do not dress quite as well as you but I am estimating that 60% of the time I am treated courteously and with relatively good humor, 30% of the time indifferently (I'm just doing a job) and 10% with abruptness or perhaps some measure of rudeness. I am absolutely sure my wife would concur and she travels even more than I do and most often not together. Therefore I can state unequivocally that not everyone is treated rudely all he time. I find this ratio equally applicable in USA, UK, Ireland and France. I would prefer 75, 20 and 5%. it is statements that suggest that everyone, many, most, all, everyone one I know that give me pause to consider.
posted by rmhsinc at 3:36 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, I know people here hate him, but this ist totally Cory Doctorow territory, isn't it?

Cory Doctorow probably thinks so.
posted by Ratio at 3:39 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is there good reason to have some sort of security at airports? Sure.

Is this any reason at all for this sort of idiotic, brain-dead, bigoted dickery to occur? Not that I can see.

There may not be that many incidents this bad, but however many there are, they all should be called out. Even though I'm a white guy of northern European ancestry - the only people whiter than me are, like, albinos - I consider myself fortunate that I do not have to fly for work on a regular basis.

Still, I think it's past time for a top-to-bottom review of airline security procedures implemented since the 9/11 attacks. A lot of this stuff is completely unnecessary, money- and time-wasting, and probably could be proven to be not worth the trouble, if you could get someone (Congress? I think not.) to look at the data objectively.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 4:13 PM on August 23, 2013


Even raising the very idea that a single sided blog post may not convey exactly what happened with 100% accuracy is verboten?

I don't know what the discussion you want is supposed to sound like. If you have some specific source of information that calls into question the blogger's version of events, then by all means let us know. But if not, all you can do is speculate that he isn't being truthful. And that is where the so called conversation ends.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:27 PM on August 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wrote to JetBlue's president, David Barger, and I encourage anyone to do the same: david.barger@jetblue.com.

Not that I expect anything to change, but I feel that I did *something*.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:44 PM on August 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I still don't understand, and probably never will, is that 9/11 happened because some guys who were willing to die and kill for their beliefs and used nothing more their barehands and some boxcutters...so all this screening for explosives is in response to what?

Off the top of my head: 2001 Shoe bomber, 2009 Underwear bomber, 2006 Liquid bomb plots, and 2012 toner cartridge bomb.

I am not saying what happened here is wrong or right. I am just pointing out there are other things besides 911 that have happened since 911.
posted by "friend" of a TSA Agent at 6:15 PM on August 23, 2013



I am not saying what happened here is wrong or right


I just- how is this ambiguous. Damn.
posted by sweetkid at 7:42 PM on August 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


Some people just insist on taking a "neutral" stance because then they're "above the debate" or whatever, and therefor have some more pure point of view or something. It's like the "hey, just asking questions!" line.

It can get pretty tiresome, because it's like "hey i'm not taking a side on this but here's my opinion anyways". It's sort of in that same category as the "I'm not *ist but, statement".
posted by emptythought at 7:46 PM on August 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's just so disheartening.
posted by sweetkid at 7:52 PM on August 23, 2013


It's sort of in that same category as the "I'm not *ist but, statement".

Huh, I read it somewhat differently. My take on it was that they were saying "there have been attempts on planes since 9-11, but that observation doesn't equal a value judgement on the story of Aditya Mukerjee." It's just a response to an earlier commenter.
posted by dubold at 3:41 AM on August 24, 2013


2001 Shoe bomber, 2009 Underwear bomber, 2006 Liquid bomb plots, and 2012 toner cartridge bomb.

And wtf did TSA have to do with stopping any of these? Shit, two of the four only failed because the bomb was an effective dud.

Fuck, I don't know. I'm whitey mcwhiterson. I make 'em do the 'enhanced patdown' every time. Flipping pennies on the rails to keep the trains off time? Wish I knew what else to do.
posted by PMdixon at 7:49 AM on August 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Does anyone else think that it's funny that it seems like the only major pushback against anything having to do with US air travel lately is the government telling two already massive airlines that they can't merge with each other? For this, the Justice department gets involved, and lawmakers go on TV and complain about inappropriate intervention, and so forth.

I haven't flown anywhere since I came home from Comic-Con in 2005. This trend looks like it's not ending anytime soon.
posted by SMPA at 5:47 PM on August 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want my country back, dammit.

Unless you've got a couple of bil in your bank account I'm not convinced that America was ever yours.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:34 PM on August 26, 2013


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