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TSA revenge screenings
November 25, 2010 10:12 PM   Subscribe

TSA holds woman captive as revenge for her complaint against them.

Stacey Armato regularly travels for work through Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. Earlier this year she was also pumping breastmilk for her baby during the day, then carrying it home for him. According to TSA regulations, breastmilk (classed as a medical liquid) can either be sent through the x-ray, or mothers can choose an alternate screening, involving a test strip. Armato ran into trouble when the Sky Harbor TSA agents were unaware of the regulations and kept her for 30 minutes while they called around to find out their rules. Afterwards, she filed a complaint.

The following week, the same TSA agents were waiting for her to come back, and apparently planned to get revenge. They held her in the special screening area for over an hour, in order to make her miss her flight home. When she had the TSA manager read the TSA regulations, he said that they didn't apply to her today. She was told "to be quiet if I know what’s good for me", and that she had a choice between following their dog and pony show, or being arrested. Here's her description of the events portrayed in the video.

Stacey Armato is a lawyer, and she found out that you can request the TSA security videos. After repeated requests, they finally sent her the video footage, except for one section - the bit where the TSA supervisor wrote down her personal information and put it in his pocket, and took photos of her breastmilk in the containers he made her re-distribute it into.
posted by Joh (383 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
Don't forget that "terrorism is just a symptom", and that it is noble to blow up an airliner with one's underwear.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:19 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Man, look at these assholes.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:22 PM on November 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


So you say there's some folks writing angry things on the internet about the TSA?
posted by dersins at 10:26 PM on November 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Threeway Handshake
Man, look at these assholes.

It's pronounced AZ-AH-LEAs. Those are Azaleas on the porch.
posted by Macphisto at 10:26 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I kind of think its hilarious that as soon as upper class white people have to deal with police harassment on a regular basis, the world is ending.
posted by empath at 10:27 PM on November 25, 2010 [146 favorites]


LIke, seriously, i've dealt with more invasive searches just going into nightclubs. And the bouncers are a lot less polite.
posted by empath at 10:28 PM on November 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


They hate our freedom to have babies.
posted by miyabo at 10:28 PM on November 25, 2010


upper class white people

Um, these are the people that can afford air travel.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:33 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


LIke, seriously, i've dealt with more invasive searches just going into nightclubs.

Are you just bringing out a rote response to the "pat down" issue? Because that's not what this post is about. She is charging that they made a private copy of her personal information and, according to the police officer who came and spoke to her, they were waiting for her to come back in order to punish her. For the terrible crime of knowing the published TSA guidelines and making a request for a certain kind of handling that was within those guidelines.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:36 PM on November 25, 2010 [71 favorites]


No Audio, just silent trauma

Between descriptions like that and "TSA holds woman captive" I'd like to politely suggest that you maybe tone down the hysterics if you don't want me to think you're kind of a drama queen.
posted by dhammond at 10:36 PM on November 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't understand. Apparently the x-rays won't harm her breast milk. Why is she so insistent that it not be x-rayed?

I also don't understand the people who would rather be fondled than go through the pornoscanner. Did I miss something? You'd rather have someone feel you up in a demeaning way than have someone see a grayed-out version of you naked?

I guess there should be a third option, where there is a mutual respect for one another, but that's just crazy.
posted by King Bee at 10:36 PM on November 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is a little bit of a nutjob site, but some very interesting suggestions are being made around what the TSA is doing internally. (Allegedly) your opinions on scanners now make you a domestic extremist.
posted by arimathea at 10:40 PM on November 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't understand. Apparently the x-rays won't harm her breast milk. Why is she so insistent that it not be x-rayed?

It doesn't matter. She is allowed to request that it not be.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:42 PM on November 25, 2010 [105 favorites]


So, whose baby, so to speak, is the TSA? It's clearly a hugely unpopular agency and arguably a complete farce as to enforcing its supposed mission. (Mind, if it's mission is to see how much of boot we'll take to the head before speaking up, it's probably on goal.)

You'd think an enterprising politician or three would be running on the platform of abolishing the TSA and it's agents of fascism (or however they'd want to phrase that).
posted by maxwelton at 10:45 PM on November 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Between descriptions like that and "TSA holds woman captive"

How would you describe someone being held without cause by authorities?
posted by krinklyfig at 10:45 PM on November 25, 2010 [33 favorites]


If the breast milk didn't do anything wrong it has nothing to worry about!
posted by Ad hominem at 10:45 PM on November 25, 2010 [35 favorites]


She is allowed to request that it not be.

I understand that. Being allowed to do something is not a reason for doing it. I'm not defending the actions of the TSA agents acting so petty by "getting back at her", I'm wondering why she cares so much about her breast milk not being x-rayed.
posted by King Bee at 10:45 PM on November 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Apparently the x-rays won't harm her breast milk. Why is she so insistent that it not be x-rayed?

Because she's skeptical of that "Apparently"?
posted by John Cohen at 10:46 PM on November 25, 2010 [27 favorites]


I also don't understand the people who would rather be fondled than go through the pornoscanner. Did I miss something? You'd rather have someone feel you up in a demeaning way than have someone see a grayed-out version of you naked?

It's a tried-and-true protester's technique. We saw it all the time during the civil rights era: someone says you can either sit in the back of the bus, or not take the bus: so you decide to walk.

The point is that by protesting the false and objectionable choice, you're calling attention to something people would rather you'd meekly accept. I agree it's absurd that people are only now caring about security theater, but better now than never.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:47 PM on November 25, 2010 [106 favorites]


I kind of think its hilarious that as soon as upper class white people have to deal with police harassment on a regular basis, the world is ending.

Took the words right out of my mouth.

Hey, what kind of scanner did you use to see in my mouth anyway? Harassment!
posted by hamida2242 at 10:47 PM on November 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


How would you describe someone being held without cause by authorities?

Detained? "Captive" certainly implies something a little more extreme.
cap·tive (kptv)
n.
1. One, such as a prisoner of war, who is forcibly confined, subjugated, or enslaved.
posted by dhammond at 10:49 PM on November 25, 2010


The behavior of the TSA workers reminds me of the guards in the Stanford Prison Experiment. They've just just horribly internalized their roles in the name of "security."
posted by mnemonic at 10:51 PM on November 25, 2010 [38 favorites]


Seems like the whole country has Stockholm Syndrome.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:55 PM on November 25, 2010 [28 favorites]


This is how it happens America. Brazil-style. With people 'just doing their job' and 'just following the rules'
posted by AzzaMcKazza at 10:56 PM on November 25, 2010 [13 favorites]


Women get very emotional about their breastmilk. I cannot explain it rationally, but I know it happened to me when I was pumping for my sons. You work really hard for it (pumping often feels demeaning, can be painful sometimes, takes time and requires personal sacrifice), and it is something very personal to you, that represents in some way, the close relationship between you and your child.

I cannot see any reason why it wouldn't be safe to send breastmilk through the x-ray machine, but really, that's not the point of this post. The TSA allows an alternative screening method, so they shouldn't be punishing people for choosing it. They also shouldn't be punishing people for filing legitimate complaints about them, or making up rules on the spot.

Yes, there are many other stories out there about TSA abuses. This is another one, and I thought, a particularly egregious example, since it was not about TSA upsetting people during a routine screening, but about TSA agents abusing their authority and fucking with someone just because they were pissed at them.

dhammond, sorry if my wording offended you. It was not meant to over-dramatise, just to succinctly explain the link.
posted by Joh at 10:56 PM on November 25, 2010 [72 favorites]


Being allowed to do something is not a reason for doing it.
It's a pretty useful test to see if it's actually allowed. See also: freedom of assembly.
posted by lumensimus at 10:57 PM on November 25, 2010 [86 favorites]


I'm wondering why she cares so much about her breast milk not being x-rayed.

What difference does it make?
posted by krinklyfig at 10:58 PM on November 25, 2010 [31 favorites]


Detained?

Captive may be a bit strong, though the definition indicates it is appropriate, . . . who is forcibly confined . . ..

Detained is far too passive, if we want to argue about semantics anyway. People who are held up by the line at the grocery store are "detained", as are people who are lawfully taken into custody. Perhaps "illegally detained", or "illegally taken into custody" or "fascist-ed" (new verb).

Regardless of the words used to describe it, the TSA is acting improperly here, though I suspect it is the individual TSA screeners at the airport in Phoenix and not so much a policy thing.

This is a little bit of a nutjob site, but some very interesting suggestions are being made around what the TSA is doing internally. (Allegedly) your opinions on scanners now make you a domestic extremist.

Um, is there anything other than this batshitinsane site that corroborates this? Look at the nonsense they have posted there. I'm going to go with BS on that one until there is further evidence.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:59 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Detained? "Captive" certainly implies something a little more extreme.

"One ... who is forcibly confined"

Was she not?
posted by krinklyfig at 11:00 PM on November 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


stinkycheese: "Seems like the whole country has Stockholm Syndrome"

Yes. It's like we're being held hostage as a nation. That's it exactly.
posted by dhammond at 11:00 PM on November 25, 2010 [8 favorites]


It is completely irrelevant why are if it makes sense to care so much about her breast milk. She was absolutely no risk and they literally made her wait an hour for completely arbitrary reasons -- that checkpoint wasn't busy so there wasn't any justification even for "too busy". Just from the video (assuming the time frame is a lie), it's clear the TSA agents were not doing their job (unless part of their job is to arbitrarily make people wait).
posted by R343L at 11:00 PM on November 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


Look, this splitting of hairs is annoying. Why are we discussing this woman's motivations for protecting her breast milk and your objection to choice of emphasis in the post? I find what the TSA is doing far more worthy of attention and concern.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:02 PM on November 25, 2010 [38 favorites]


What difference does it make?

Because I am wondering why someone would allow herself to be treated so inhumanely by a bunch of thugs with badges when she could easily avoid such an ordeal by putting her breast milk through the x-ray scanner, which, as I linked above, should not harm the breast milk.

Joh, your comment above is enlightening. Thank you.
posted by King Bee at 11:03 PM on November 25, 2010


Oh I'm so gonna write Kevin Costner a letter.
posted by I love you more when I eat paint chips at 11:04 PM on November 25, 2010


Yes. It's like we're being held hostage as a nation. That's it exactly.

They are considering employing this security for trains and buses as well. If you're not free to travel within the country without undergoing a thorough body search, that means we're living in a police state.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:06 PM on November 25, 2010 [106 favorites]


What did people do with breast milk before the TSA? Everything was X-rayed back then, too. And those X-ray machines were "dirtier" than the ones in use today?

I think the Internet's ability to give everyone a voice has *created* crazy, not just enabled it.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:07 PM on November 25, 2010


King Bee: Really? She was harassed for it just a week before. She knew the rules and brought proof. And was treated like this. Wouldn't you put up with a little hassle to stand up for yourself? To not to just quietly comply? To not be a doormat?
posted by R343L at 11:08 PM on November 25, 2010 [31 favorites]


Because I am wondering why someone would allow herself to be treated so inhumanely by a bunch of thugs with badges when she could easily avoid such an ordeal by putting her breast milk through the x-ray scanner, which, as I linked above, should not harm the breast milk.

Why should a written exception to the rules entail inhumane treatment when it's requested? Why is it HER problem when she requests something that's allowed but that might be a slight inconvenience to the TSA, and then they get bent out of shape over it and detain her illegally, contravening their own written guidelines and our laws?
posted by krinklyfig at 11:08 PM on November 25, 2010 [25 favorites]


What did people do with breast milk before the TSA? Everything was X-rayed back then, too. And those X-ray machines were "dirtier" than the ones in use today?

I always remember being able to request nearly anything not be put through X-Ray machines. I used to do that with film and laptops all the time, no problem. They just asked me to open up the laptop case and shook the film canisters, if they bothered.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:11 PM on November 25, 2010 [10 favorites]


Eh? "One [...] who is forcibly confined" is not applicable if your movement is restricted by people with guns?
posted by Cironian at 11:11 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Note to self: Hit reload before replying to highly obvious point.
posted by Cironian at 11:12 PM on November 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


"as I linked above, should not harm the breast milk."
"Should not" and "apparently not" are not the same thing as "won't". Unless they did a study where they ran breastmilk through an airport x-ray I wouldn't just assume it was fine. X-rays damage cells, breast milk is cells, and babies drink it for food. They used to give kids x-rays at the shoe stores to find out their shoe size. We never know what's harmful at first until years later someone tests it. Until then, I don't see the risk-benefit scale evening out.
posted by amethysts at 11:13 PM on November 25, 2010 [8 favorites]


I think the Internet's ability to give everyone a voice has *created* crazy, not just enabled it.

I think it's a damn shame that people think she's the crazy one here. Her request was totally valid and allowed explicitly. There was nothing in her behavior which should have prompted any of the trouble she went through- by people who are paid to serve the public, not the other way around. And she's crazy?
posted by krinklyfig at 11:13 PM on November 25, 2010 [80 favorites]


What did people do with breast milk before the TSA? Everything was X-rayed back then, too. And those X-ray machines were "dirtier" than the ones in use today?

Hand search, like film (I had my film bag hand searched as recently as June 2000 - after which I converted to all digital).

And earlier than that, there might not have been as many working nursing mothers traveling with milk.
posted by tilde at 11:14 PM on November 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't understand. Apparently the x-rays won't harm her breast milk. Why is she so insistent that it not be x-rayed?

It's that sticky word "apparently" in your question that's the problem. You can safely say it's "probably" safe or "likely" safe, but no self-respecting scientist will say X-raying milk is absolutely, 100% safe. So as long as there is a risk, there should be exceptions made.

Overall, I'm upset about this new phase of TSA intrusion because it's ratcheting up the tension, the hassle, the wait, the paranoia, etc. All of which is not good for the country as a whole. In the almost 10 years since 9/11, we have never ratcheted down the tension, it's a one-way valve: it only goes up. And it seems to always go up, with incremental steps like this.

This is actually a crucial point, with the TSA front and center of a public debate on the issue. If we just complain and groan and bitch about it, that's all it will amount to, and this level of increased intrusion will become normal. In a year, two, certainly five or so down the road. And at that point we'll never be able to get rid of the TSA and body scanners and pat downs. It will simply be a part of the drudgery of airline travel, and that in itself is a depressing thought to me.

I kind of think its hilarious that as soon as upper class white people have to deal with police harassment on a regular basis, the world is ending.

I don't give a shit who this happens to; it shouldn't be happening at all. We're at a crossroads. Will we just take what's being dished out (polls about the new TSA procedures seem to think so) or will the complaints become so loud that politicians won't be able to avoid the issue? The cynic in me says the former will happen, but if the TSA keeps behaving like the Keystone Kops, we might see a tipping point, sooner than later. I don't know.
posted by zardoz at 11:15 PM on November 25, 2010 [49 favorites]


I don't understand the sudden upsurge in TSA related outrage. I know that a lot of it is also being linked from pretty far right sites (Ron Paul right) -- that instantly makes me suspicious of its intent, despite not being a big fan of the TSA.
posted by codacorolla at 11:16 PM on November 25, 2010


I heard that if MeFi has 3 more arguments about the TSA, we all get a set of steak knives.
posted by auto-correct at 11:16 PM on November 25, 2010 [21 favorites]


I understand that. Being allowed to do something is not a reason for doing it.

You mean like, speaking, assembling, worshiping and not being subject to unreasonable search and seizure? I mean, just because you're entitled to those things doesn't mean you should be entitled to them!

It always surprises me, the things metafilter chooses to mock or roll over for.

This ever-escalating security circus is designed to convince you that somebody is doing something to protect you from something that was never even a threat in the first place. And even if it was, their measures would do nothing to reduce it. They know that and I can't help but think they're just doing it to see how complacent people will be.

They must be delighted at their good fortune.
posted by klanawa at 11:19 PM on November 25, 2010 [48 favorites]


cap·tive (kptv)
n.
1. One, such as a prisoner of war, who is forcibly confined, subjugated, or enslaved.
posted by dhammon


Next time edit out the "1". We might be lazy and not check to see you conveniently left out 2-5 to better support your point.
posted by justgary at 11:21 PM on November 25, 2010 [30 favorites]


* waits for the light, friendly slap on the wrist *

There seems to be something weird going on with the whole TSA thing. Over the last few days, people have started realising this is an issue that goes across political boundaries. Conservatives are angry about this too. Which seems to have resulted in a few small-bollocked "progressives" deciding that it's actually not an issue, and people should put up and shut up. Like that pathetic, insidious article in The Nation the other day, declaring that the "If you touch my junk..." guy was some kind of evil libertarian extremist, therefore the whole thing should be ignored. Now, I hate libertarians as much as the next commie, but having an arsehole threaten a $10,000 suit for peacefully leaving the airport when told to sounds like a legitimate complaint.

And the sort of punitive, childish shit that this post reveals? Heads need to roll. And hey, I'm not even American, and I can tell you I don't plan on visiting again any time soon, but this still pisses me off severely.
posted by Jimbob at 11:21 PM on November 25, 2010 [42 favorites]


I don't understand the sudden upsurge in TSA related outrage.

The procedures described in the post are new. The whole body scanners and the pat downs just recently started, and they have without a doubt provoked outrage. Don't you dare think for a minute that someone standing up for their rights must be a right-wing nutbag, or left-wing, for that matter. If that's crazy, sign me up, because this shit doesn't look like anything but creeping authoritarian control using poorly trained thugs, with no accountability and no recourse.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:26 PM on November 25, 2010 [53 favorites]


How would you describe someone being held without cause by authorities?

Detained? "Captive" certainly implies something a little more extreme.

cap·tive (kptv) n. 1. One, such as a prisoner of war, who is forcibly confined, subjugated, or enslaved.



The very dictionary that you link to has more than definition for captive so don't pretend like the other ones don't exist or are somehow less valid.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 11:30 PM on November 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh, I should have hit preview...
posted by The Hamms Bear at 11:31 PM on November 25, 2010


It is a little bit amusing that it's been nine years of the war on terror, and the only citizens revolt against the infringement of our civil liberties is due to airport security.
posted by lullaby at 11:35 PM on November 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


Codacorolla, I can only speak for myself, but I'm way left of the Ron Paul crowd. I think the invasive pat downs and the body scanners being put into service is what flipped the switch for me, from general grumbling over the dinner table mode, into "this shit has got to stop" mode.

There's valid scientific questions about the safety of the scanners (I'm can't find the links right now, on my cell). Personally I'm not too fussed if a TSA drone sees a weird blurry picture of me, but I don't want an increased risk of skin cancer for the sake of, well, what exactly? Security theater. The enhanced patdowns just appear to be a psychological tool to make people choose the scanner.

Putting people in glass boxes (that don't look bomb-proof) in the middle of the screening area appears to be a psychological tool to make other travelers feel glad they didn't get chosen, and reinforces that you should just do what you are told. Even if what you are told is not the actual TSA procedure.
posted by Joh at 11:35 PM on November 25, 2010 [27 favorites]


I heard that if MeFi has 3 more arguments about the TSA, we all get a set of steak knives.

4 more means we're fired.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:38 PM on November 25, 2010 [13 favorites]


I don't think "enslaved" or "taken and held prisoner" are really the best descriptions here, but to each his own. I'm not saying this woman doesn't have a legitimate beef with the TSA. She does. But people throwing around incredibly loaded terms like "police state" and "fascism" is ridiculous given that the actions shown in the video are clearly not part of TSA official regulations, an argument that's made clear in the post itself. Let's be real here.
posted by dhammond at 11:38 PM on November 25, 2010


They held her for long enough to make her miss her flight, in retaliation for filing a complaint. It doesn't matter if it was over breast milk, patdowns, whatever. A bunch of authoritarian jackasses decided to ignore their own rules to punish a passenger. And with every expectation that she would just have to take whatever they dished out.

Let's not get bogged down here about the breast milk. If someone had groped her during a patdown, confiscated something allowed by law on a plane, swore at her, whatever, the outcome likely would have been the same - being locked in a plexiglass box in the middle of the screening area, to be gawked at by other passengers for long enough to make her miss her flight. The fact it was over her son's food and the hard one product of her body is insult to injury by that point.
posted by Jilder at 11:41 PM on November 25, 2010 [36 favorites]


What the fuck do the other definitions have to do with anything? Do they somehow make the first definition less valid?
posted by inparticularity at 11:45 PM on November 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


You'd rather have someone feel you up in a demeaning way than have someone see a grayed-out version of you naked?

Yes--I'm demeaned either way, and the pat down brings them with me. They're just going to have to crouch down and feel my balls, right out in public if that's how they want to play it.
posted by Hoopo at 11:46 PM on November 25, 2010 [23 favorites]


But people throwing around incredibly loaded terms like "police state" and "fascism" is ridiculous given that the actions shown in the video are clearly not part of TSA official regulations, an argument that's made clear in the post itself. Let's be real here.

When I use a term like "police state," I do so specifically. I am not exaggerating when I say that, if we cannot travel within the country by bus, train or plane without undergoing a body search, we will be living in a police state. All authoritarian states restrict travel in similar manners. It's a distinguishing characteristic. You don't really see that implemented as policy outside of police states.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:46 PM on November 25, 2010 [109 favorites]


Haha. Let's all notice the inconsistency of people who make an issue of a woman's totally rule-abiding refusal to have her breast milk x-rayed, but who will give unprofessional authorities a pass on detaining, harassing and exacting petty, uncalled-for revenge on a woman in public when she's trying to catch a plane. Haha! They take issue when a normal person with dignity does absolutely nothing wrong, but they haven't any problem with deliberate, unprovoked bullying by people whose job it is to know better and protect us!

Let's find a way to interrupt their lives in order to irradiate the things they value with no rational reason, and let's threaten them with arrest in a big glass box until they let us. Let's do it when they have to be somewhere! We can pretend the things they value are dangerous, and that THEY'RE belligerant for saying these things are not! If they want to get on with their lives, they'll have to let us do it! They certainly won't object to that!
posted by millions at 11:47 PM on November 25, 2010 [43 favorites]


Is it part of the job description that TSA agents must look like Oompa Loompas?
posted by Joe Chip at 11:49 PM on November 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


But people throwing around incredibly loaded terms like "police state" and "fascism" is ridiculous given that the actions shown in the video are clearly not part of TSA official regulations, an argument that's made clear in the post itself.

Police states happen, sometimes, because of mission creep. Seeing what's tolerated, and if it is, it becomes a permanent feature. When's the last time your security threat-level was lowered? When's the last time a security procedure was removed because it was deemed "no longer necessary"? If you accept the continuing, permanent escalating of human rights removal, then you are implicitly supporting the idea that the War on Terror is actually real, useful, winnable, and deserving of your subjugation to the people who invented it.
posted by Jimbob at 11:52 PM on November 25, 2010 [37 favorites]


I'm not saying this woman doesn't have a legitimate beef with the TSA.

Yes, you most certainly are. You've been questioning her treatment in the entirety of your contributions in this thread.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:54 PM on November 25, 2010 [12 favorites]


I'm surprised this isn't more of a labour issue among the agents themselves. TSA employees push back on full-body scanners, pat-down protocol: 'We're not perverts'
posted by Space Coyote at 11:54 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


actions shown in the video are clearly not part of TSA official regulations

Yeah, the thing is, a lot of the complaints filed over the last several years are for actions by TSA agents which are not part of official regulations. It's really worse that it's not, because it means they can blame it on one individual. My own experience with outright bullies at TSA (not to mention the countless complaints by others) tells me it's a systemic issue where the oversight on TSA is woefully inadequate, and they are given far too much latitude and authority for the training they receive and the responsibility they bear. This type of problem is the norm as far as I can tell, where the agents basically turn into outright bullies and abuse people at will.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:55 PM on November 25, 2010 [12 favorites]


I heard that if MeFi has 3 more arguments about the TSA, we all get a set of steak knives.

It's either a TSA thread or another bacon thread, and there ain't enough steel at the Ginsu factory to remunerate us all for beating that dead hog.
posted by hamida2242 at 11:56 PM on November 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


But people throwing around incredibly loaded terms like "police state" and "fascism" is ridiculous given that the actions shown in the video are clearly not part of TSA official regulations, an argument that's made clear in the post itself. Let's be real here.

Calling people who express their First Amendment freedom to publicly criticize the TSA "domestic extremists" — because the TSA can't get away with calling critics terrorists without even more of a PR nightmare on their hands, and so this is how they will bully the public into silence — is taking a page from police state procedurals 101.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:58 PM on November 25, 2010 [34 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon:"Yes, you most certainly are. You've been questioning her treatment in the entirety of your contributions in this thread."

If I didn't think she had a legitimate complaint, I'd say so. I'm only pointing out that I think many people are overstating the severity of the issue by using incredibly loaded and melodramatic language to describe what happened to her. It's really not that hard to parse.
posted by dhammond at 12:01 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Look, it doesn't matter whether you think x-raying breast milk is harmful or not. It doesn't matter what you think of of Stacey Armato.

She was following the rules the TSA's own rules, and a bureaucrat decided to illegally abuse his power, under color of law, in order to "punish" her just because she insisting on her rights.

It's not a right-wing issue, it's not a left-wing issue, it's an issue of human rights and civil liberties. Thank god the Ron Paul faction agrees with the ACLU supporters on this one.

If you call yourself a "liberal", better call yourself a damned fool if you're dismissing violations of people's rights under color of law, just because "Paultards" have a problem with it. You should see this as a rare chance to make common cause with libertarians.

The issue is simple: under the guise of "protecting" us from "terror", the TSA has acquired the power and -- evidently from this -- the inclination to harass and demean Americans with impunity. Stacey Armato got harassed and demeaned and illegally detained because a bureaucrat functionary got his rocks off doing so. And any one of us could be next.
posted by orthogonality at 12:10 AM on November 26, 2010 [164 favorites]


I'm only pointing out that I think many people are overstating the severity of the issue by using incredibly loaded and melodramatic language to describe what happened to her.

OK, but is it so important that you have to make it your primary contribution? I mean, I guess it's sort of annoying to see people express their outrage, but it doesn't bother me that much, on the whole.

I will be directly affected by what's happening now with TSA, on the other hand, so I can't be bothered too much worrying about whether someone has moderated their words to my satisfaction while discussing it, before we can just let petty issues like drop and deal with what's really important.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:13 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


And any one of us could be next.

Exactly. And everything else that orthogonality wrote just above.

And people endlessly going back and forth about whether the OP should've used "detained" instead of "captive"? How about focusing your sights on what matters here, OK? Or hey, continue, if you think that these distinctions might help you when you are harassed and detained/held captive. Maybe you and the TSA agent in charge of you will have an enlightening conversation about these oh-so-important distinctions in terminology.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:18 AM on November 26, 2010 [11 favorites]


You can request TSA security footage? Are they required to comply? She doesn't provide any explanation. If nothing else, this information needs to be spread far and wide.
posted by naju at 12:23 AM on November 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


I heard that if MeFi has 3 more arguments about the TSA, we all get a set of steak knives.

Steak knives are for closers and I don't see this closing any time soon.

I am behind her 100 percent. I don't think its "crazy" to be concerned about how x-rays may affect breast milk. I would not fuck with a mother and her newborn on something like this either. I know how my wife was about things like that and could easily see her being very alarmed at the perceived risks.

Congrats TSA! You won the battle but are losing the war.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 12:26 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


> This ever-escalating security circus is designed to convince you that somebody is doing something to protect you from something that was never even a threat in the first place. And even if it was, their measures would do nothing to reduce it. They know that and I can't help but think they're just doing it to see how complacent people will be.

My advice is to try harder to help it. Unsubstantiated suspicion about a vaguely understood 'they' tends to come off pretty crazy.

Maybe they (and here I mean the people running the TSA) think the new measures will help stop terrorists; maybe they think the theater will make people feel safer; maybe they think they have to do something to keep from looking useless. But I'm guessing we could come up with a better explanation than 'airport security is an experiment testing American complacency,' which I think you have to admit doesn't make a lot of sense under examination. Who's supposed to be behind it? Three different TSA administrators, three different DHS secretaries, and two presidents at the very least.

That's not to say airport security is awesome. But if you actually want to help solve the problem, you need to honestly analyze it rather than making the predictable, lazy accusations that poison the debate nationally and in our little online community.
posted by roast beef at 12:28 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


"illegally abuse his power"
posted by clavdivs at 12:28 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


'And any one of us could be next.

Exactly. And everything else that orthogonality wrote just above'
posted by clavdivs at 12:30 AM on November 26, 2010


OK, but is it so important that you have to make it your primary contribution?

Fair point. Others have pointed out the abuses of the TSA ad nauseum. I am only going to say that I think there's a big difference between some knuckleheads overstepping their bounds and a widespread government policy of extensive searching and breaching of our constitutional rights. I'm very concerned about about the latter but I don't really think we're really there yet. At all. The fact that the public in general is having these conversations vastly outweighs something like this scenario, which is relatively isolated in the grand scheme
of things. But that's not quite as interesting as an FPP, I guess.
posted by dhammond at 12:30 AM on November 26, 2010


when you are harassed and detained/held captive. Maybe you and the TSA agent in charge of you will have an enlightening conversation about these oh-so-important distinctions in terminology.
posted by clavdivs at 12:31 AM on November 26, 2010


terminology keeps me and her safe.
'Trained Sadist Association' is my personal view
posted by clavdivs at 12:33 AM on November 26, 2010


Her and I.
posted by clavdivs at 12:33 AM on November 26, 2010


made you look, slowed down that line.
posted by clavdivs at 12:35 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


foolish
posted by clavdivs at 12:35 AM on November 26, 2010


Ovid said "principiis obsta" - fight the beginnings. Originally he was talking about inappropriate love, but it has long since taken on a political connotation.
Fight the beginnings because it only gets worse.
posted by Omnomnom at 12:36 AM on November 26, 2010 [18 favorites]


I'm very concerned about about the latter but I don't really think we're really there yet.

The TSA plan to put critics on a "domestic extremist" list. This should concern people who value their First Amendment rights.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:39 AM on November 26, 2010 [19 favorites]


The interesting thing about this is that people of all political stripes are opposed to the handling of elder or naturally hanging body parts but no one, or no party rather, can make political hay while this sun shines.
The news shows: this has been picked up by the networks, and advocated online by reddit amongst others but if you dare complain as an R of D then you are being soft on terrorism.
I look forward to the duplicity.
posted by vapidave at 12:42 AM on November 26, 2010


But I'm guessing we could come up with a better explanation than 'airport security is an experiment testing American complacency,' which I think you have to admit doesn't make a lot of sense under examination.

Well fair enough. I don't think it's a conspiracy. I think it's foolishness and laziness. Someone uses boxcutters to hijack a plane, so suddenly you can't take on nail clippers. Someone tries a liquid explosive, so suddenly you can't take on shampoo or milk for your kid. Someone hides a bomb in their shoe, so suddenly you have to take your shoes off. Someone hides explosives in their jocks, so suddenly they have to see you naked / grab your groin. This is just complete catch up - the people planning this are basically taking the cheap, easy option, rather than addressing the core issues. Because that would be politically difficult, that would involve changes to foreign policy, military deployments, intelligence gathering. And once you get stuck in that loop, there's no escaping - look at the surveillance state in the UK; those CCTV cameras aren't ever being taken down. Originally they sounded like a good idea - but they're not serving the public anymore.

Human creativity is an amazing thing...just picture what's going to come next, after a would-be terrorist figures out how to defeat this system.
posted by Jimbob at 12:45 AM on November 26, 2010 [17 favorites]


The TSA plan to put critics on a "domestic extremist" list. This should concern people who value their First Amendment rights.

Just did some quick Googling and can't find any reliable evidence for this. Do you have a link?
posted by roast beef at 12:46 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


There are two groups of people here (with a lot of overlap) who shouldn't be shouting at (or past or down) each other.

Almost everyone here seems to agree that the woman in this story has certain rights that were were violated and the TSA people remain skeevy fuckers and so on. That's pretty much agreed by the look of it, though there is the usual bickering over tone and word choice, and of course lots of elbowing in the fight to gain the apparent high ground in the argument.

But I bet a sizable subset of those same people also wonder, essentially as an aside but as an important aside, whether it makes much sense to worry about the effects of an airport X-ray on a bottle of milk. Not whether she has a right to avoid it, which is an entirely different deal, but whether it makes much sense to worry about it. This place is usually strong on defending science and sense against the sort of "But, my baby!" alarmism that, for example, convinces people not to get their children vaccinated. So can someone offer some convincing links concerning the effects of an airport X-ray on a bottle of milk?
posted by pracowity at 12:51 AM on November 26, 2010


Ovid said "principiis obsta" - fight the beginnings.

principiis obsta: Resist the first advances.
posted by clavdivs at 12:55 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Do you have a link?

I don't have a reliable link, sorry.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:56 AM on November 26, 2010


So can someone offer some convincing links concerning the effects of an airport X-ray on a bottle of milk?

I can't offer you any peer-reviewed research, but from basic principles; breast milk contains proteins and hormones which are important for the child. X-rays, being ionising radiation, can modify these proteins. I don't have any evidence that this is statistically important, but it is a physical possibility. Being concerned about your breast milk going through x-rays seems about on-par with being concerned about your 400 film going through them, to me.
posted by Jimbob at 12:57 AM on November 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


The TSA plan to put critics on a "domestic extremist" list[citation needed]*


Posts on conspiracy-theory blogs citing "memos" which the authors can't seem to provide copies of, and other sources which in turn cite only those blog posts, are not considered a valid citation.
posted by dersins at 1:00 AM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Any organization will attempt grab as much power as it can in order to perpetuate it's own existence.

Any organization will view any criticism as attack and will fight back.

Why? Cuz the TSA, or any other organization a person can belong to, is a tribe.

This is also true of political affiliation. People would rather suffer through pat downs every day than admit an enemy group is right.

Anyway, it doesn't matter if there is evidence that x-rays does not harm breast milk. Emotion trumps intellect any day of the week.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:08 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


The really pitiful thing is that her request to avoid x-raying the breast milk resulted in it being extensively handled, divided into separate containers, and prolonging the time it went unrefrigerated. I feel quite sure that the danger of introduced microorganisms from the "alternative" procedure is far greater than that of the Xrays. Hell, if the Xrays are dangerous, they're more likely to kill pathogens than to harm the milk -- in other words, she'd probably have been better off.

She was still entirely within her rights to request this exception and what they did was inexcusable. But if the aim had actually been to protect the breast milk, well, put it this way: they fucked that up for her too.
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:10 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't have a reliable link, sorry.

Way to argue in good faith, BP. You're going to repeat inflammatory statements of dubious provenance as if they're incontrovertible fact, and you don't even have a "reliable" link to back it up?

Come on people-- there are plenty of real, actual fucked up things going on that are worth getting outraged about without resorting to basically making shit up.
posted by dersins at 1:13 AM on November 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


The TSA starting salary is about 17,500/year. Workers report abusive managers and the kind of stuff that would make Office Space seem like a positive work environment. TSA workers do not have the right to strike or have collective bargaining. Sadly privileged rich folks seem more concerned with berating these folks rather than trying to understand why thing are as they are.

I also don't understand the people who would rather be fondled than go through the pornoscanner. Did I miss something? You'd rather have someone feel you up in a demeaning way than have someone see a grayed-out version of you naked?

You missed the public letters from respected and leading researchers expressing concerns about the safety of the devices. These researchers from UCSF, Johns Hopkins and Columbia have identified problems with the way in which these machines were deamed safe.
posted by humanfont at 1:19 AM on November 26, 2010 [15 favorites]


On a related note, last month I was putting my items on the x-ray belt, removed my CPAP machine from its case, and told the attendant that it was on its way through. For a couple of years CPAP machines had to be taken out of carriers (as with laptops) and they were then swabbed and run through the explosives detector. When I emerged from the full body scanner I was surprised to find it on the belt, I asked if they were going to test it and the guy grumbled "new procedure" and told me to take it. Same thing on the return flight, except the guy seemed annoyed that asked if it was a new procedure.

I don't know if it is a positive sign that they are capable of change, or if they were just understaffed because it took 3 people to check me out at the scanner and yell at me for carrying a pack of gum into the scanning area. Seriously, yell at me.
posted by cgk at 1:22 AM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well I saw a "domestic extremist list" article on reddit earlier today. this is where it led back to. Make of it what you will.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:23 AM on November 26, 2010


With respect my friend here is one.

Why would babys milk be subjected to such a test?
What of the slighest chance that machine malfuctioned. The same as her milk posing a threat?
Off hand, no, radiation would most likely not cause any damage to mother or child. But it seems every other facet of the human condition has. As evidence, the woman standing in a plexi-glass box.
{I know it is 'rhetoric' but after Uncles Szczepan going on about 'you who did that and when' at table, its the best i can do}
posted by clavdivs at 1:25 AM on November 26, 2010


Well I saw a "domestic extremist list" article on reddit earlier today. this is where it led back to. Make of it what you will.

That's exactly who the link posted upthread cited. No memo. No evidence of any kind. Just bald assertion. Typical from conspiracy theorists and people who think Barack Obama is from Kenya or Indonesia or wherever they say he's from these days.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:28 AM on November 26, 2010


Agreed, didn't see it linked. If I was involved in a dastardly plot I would want it plastered all over that blog just to make sure nobody would ever believe it.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:32 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


The TSA (well, security services in general) are largely low-paid and badly educated. It is probably the worst job in the world. Be sure that these TSA employees themselves are terrorized by their (likewise) underachieving superiors. This is textbook fascism, but be sure this woman was singled out by someone up the chain of command.

And anyone who would defend the actions of these guys obviously spends very little time in airports. I mean, she MISSED HER FLIGHT on the way home to FEED her 7-month-old son!

Furthermore, I would like to hear a sane explanation as to what act of terrorism she could have POSSIBLY committed with that milk! Americans who would defend or justify the actions of the TSA are nothing but brainwashed pseudofascists themselves.
posted by bboyberlin at 1:33 AM on November 26, 2010 [13 favorites]


Typical from conspiracy theorists and people who think Barack Obama is from Kenya or Indonesia or wherever they say he's from these days.

It's true, I think Obama is from Kenya. You got me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:35 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


And anyone who would defend the actions of these guys obviously spends very little time in airports. I mean, she MISSED HER FLIGHT on the way home to FEED her 7-month-old son!

We have her version of the events and an edited video tape. People who are angry and belligerent will be subjected to additional screening. I'm a bit wary about these incidents because it is easy to turn them into civil rights theater.
posted by humanfont at 1:40 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't like how these breastmilk rules are written:
When traveling with your infant or toddler, in the absence of suspicious activity or items, greater than 3 ounces of baby formula, breast milk, or juice are permitted through the security checkpoint in reasonable quantities for the duration of your itinerary, if you perform the following:

  • Separate these items from the liquids, gels, and aerosols in your quart-size and zip-top bag.

  • Declare you have the items to one of our Security Officers at the security checkpoint.

  • Present these items for additional inspection once reaching the X-ray. These items are subject to additional screening.

  • I bet they have her on suspicious activity. Working a flight commuting job and having babies? Highly suspect, that. Yep.
    posted by dabitch at 1:44 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


    I would like to hear a sane explanation as to what act of terrorism she could have POSSIBLY committed with that....!

    Operation Bojinka
    posted by clavdivs at 1:46 AM on November 26, 2010


    It's true, I think Obama is from Kenya. You got me.

    Oh man, I didn't mean you. I meant the website. Sorry.
    posted by IvoShandor at 1:49 AM on November 26, 2010


    We have her version of the events and an edited video tape. People who are angry and belligerent will be subjected to additional screening. I'm a bit wary about these incidents because it is easy to turn them into civil rights theater.

    Yeah, I'd like to see the actual regulations, does anyone have a link? And not just a policy statement, but the actual, enforceable law.
    posted by Menthol at 1:53 AM on November 26, 2010


    There's just something seriously wrong with the TSA infrastructure that began shortly after Sept. 11th and become more intense, but hamfisted and horrifyingly ripe for abuse. I think a lot of the Napolitano improvements are actually very smart and show serious understandings of weaknesses, but from what I saw the last time I went through a TSA checkpoint there was some sort of serious disconnect between the experts in the field who've designed these systems and procedure's, management and the poor shlubs on the frontline wearing the badges and doing the the interfacing with the public.

    These folks should be smart and discrete and professional people who know how to see the real dangers and make an assessment, manage and diffuse a situation and not waste manpower and compromise the alertness of the checkpoint by acting like a vindictive bunch of pricks at a fast food franchise who recognize a rude customer and spit in the person's Big Mac.

    And that's really what I see here, people who should actually be working at McDonald's for all the care or dedication or expertise they really have. Being treated as expendable by management, just doing a shit job, passing on that disregard. Boredom and hateful and bitter just having zero dedication to the importance of their jobs and their responsibility to the general public. It's likie a weird class thing...

    It gives great credence to the idea that TSA workers are really just taking part in a great big piece of theater that's meant to not really find anything , but give the illusion that security is super intense.

    Every TSA checkpoint should be run the same way, with a full understanding of what they can do and what they can't do, not like some former McDonald's manager's idea of his or her little fiefdom.
    posted by Skygazer at 1:55 AM on November 26, 2010 [20 favorites]


    And that's really what I see here, people who should actually be working at McDonald's for all the care or dedication or expertise they really have.

    That's not very nice to people who work at McDonald's.
    posted by Menthol at 1:59 AM on November 26, 2010 [12 favorites]


    What difference does it make if they are or are not taking note of names of dissenters? The claim here is that someone is being detained unlawfully, against their will in retaliation for something they are legally allowed to do.

    The fact that someone may or may not be accurately reporting something is moot. The evidence is above in video. Everything else that is quoted or alluded to here could be just as circumstantial. There have been talks of "TSA Whistleblowers" coming out and reporting things that may or may not be real. How does any of that make what happened to this woman ok?

    This is a subject that affects me greatly. I travel around 20-25 times per year and I will not submit to either the scanner or a groping. If randomly selected, I will proudly miss my flight rather than momentarily give up my right to privacy and the right to travel freely.

    In January of this year, I got stopped on my way back from Vancouver and was not allowed to pass without a (comparitively uninvasive) pat-down. I declined and asserted that I was a US citizen and I didnt have to submit to this unreasonable search. I had gone through a metal detector, I had spoken to a US customs agent, shown my passport and everything was fine. The TSA agent threatened me with arrest and I told them to bring the police. They said they were just doing their job and that I should just coorperate. Everyone in line behind me and my travel partner was asking me to just give in. 10 minutes later, they let me through with a brief wanding. As a US citizen, I have rights and I am not going to let them take those rights away from me or any other US citizen and I urge everyone to do the same. This woman has rights and even TSA guidelines EXPLICITLY allow her to request something other than what they were insisting and she was denied her rights. That is an outrage to me. The fact that Blazecock could not find a credible source to satisfy your smug self-rightous ass does nothing to assuage the removal of our rights as citizens.
    posted by subaruwrx at 2:02 AM on November 26, 2010 [60 favorites]


    Needs more Benny Hill.
    posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:02 AM on November 26, 2010


    Fuck the TSA.
    Wouldn't it be cool if they had set the TSA up to actually sort out more potentially dangerous travelers from Mom, Pop, babies and grandmas? Instead they set up a government agency to buy shit and hire people to implement that shit (a 'R' government no less) wastefully mindlessly needlessly and poorly. Christ, it's like, everything's done for a buck, and if it's not making me or my cousin some sweet sweet Gov. cheese, then the trrrists dun wun.
    Assclowns, the lot of them. Where are the fucking grownups?
    posted by From Bklyn at 2:09 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


    I detest the extra long lines for screenings, and fully understand people who opt out or want to wear 4thamendmentwear-underwear with the 4th amendment printed in metallic ink on them which shows up in the X-ray. I won't go through one of them, not because I think it takes a "picture of me grey naked" but because the backscatter machines have been red flagged by a group of MDs and PHDs at UCLA as they worry these things may cause cancer. (via myself)
    posted by dabitch at 2:12 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


    PC run amok I tells ya. I like the suggestion that everyone has to draw a cartoon of muhammad before they can get on a plane.
    posted by Ad hominem at 2:14 AM on November 26, 2010


    Unsubstantiated suspicion about a vaguely understood 'they' tends to come off pretty crazy.
    posted by roast beef at 12:28 AM

    This is funny, I know you are talking about suspicion of the TSA, but this sounds like the TSA's whole reason for existing.
    posted by psycho-alchemy at 2:19 AM on November 26, 2010 [16 favorites]


    This ought to be prosecuted as corruption. Corruption and abuse of power are the exact same thing: use of the power of an office for personal gain. That the personal gain here is petty emotional satisfaction rather than, say, a $100 bill, doesn't change the nature of it.
    posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:35 AM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


    I was 10 minutes into that video before I noticed it was sped up.
    posted by doublehappy at 2:38 AM on November 26, 2010


    It's totally annoying that the page on breast milk says that breast milk is in the same category as liquid medications, but the page on liquid medications doesn't contain the phrase "breast milk" at all.
    posted by 23skidoo at 2:43 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


    I noticed that too 23skidoo. It's like they're making the rules muddy just to keep their messing-with-people options open.
    posted by dabitch at 2:50 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    It's like they're making the rules muddy just to keep their messing-with-people options open.

    I think they're always open, regardless of what policy says. I doubt the TSA has policy that includes bursting urostomy bags, removing prosthetic breasts and holding people indefinitely for nothing, but they do it. I'd say something mean* about the TSA here if I didn't think it would land me on some watch list. Jeebus Christos!

    *TSA agents are awesome. I want to party with those guys.
    posted by IvoShandor at 2:57 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


    What would happen if people, masses of people like hundreds in a day, all "said something" to be delayed by the TSA and missed their flights (while holding tickets allowing them on the next one). Just a quiet protest. Bounce the problem to the airlines who then have to juggle hundreds of peoples rescheduling in one day.

    One day, I'd like to see that happen. I doubt the airlines would be pleased. Let see if they can kick up a bigger stink than thousands of individuals have managed so far.
    posted by dabitch at 3:05 AM on November 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


    Skygazer: "It gives great credence to the idea that TSA workers are really just taking part in a great big piece of theater that's meant to not really find anything , but give the illusion that security is super intense."

    These people aren't doing what they are to give the illusion that security is super intense; no one but a second grader would be taken in by that. These people are doing what they are doing to subvert our rights as US citizens.

    Every time you allow anyone to hold you against your will as you walk through your life (and plz don't get into semantics here with the word hold or detain or whatever else, derail hogwash) and search you and/or your possessions without them having damn good reason to suspect you've done anything, your rights have been stepped on. Oh, and even then, even if you've been found to be a threat in some way, that would have to be determined by and acted upon by a peace officer, not some shitbird barely bright enough to blow his nose.

    I think I heard one time somewhere about US citizens to be presumed innocent until proven guilty -- does this look like the presumption of innocence until proven guilty? Looks to me like presumed guilty until proven innocent.

    And no, I don't blame the people at the airports; many of them are scum, tis true, but the only reason that these scum beings have power is the laws subverted or lately written and passed to give these scum beings these powers.

    I'm not sure how, but somehow I got put on some horses-ass list, along with around a million (at that time; who knows how many by now?) other US citizens. How did I get on that list? Who put me on that list? Why? Who do I talk to to get taken off that list? No one would answer any of these questions, or any others. I'm sure most mefites are familiar with this beautiful piece of policy. What's happened after I got put on that list is that I got extra love, extra care -- it was sure swell.

    I read that one way people were getting around this nonsense was by flying using their first initial and last name, or their first initial then middle name and last name; I used first initial and middle and last name, it worked for maybe two years, and then some scrote in SF started jumping up and down when I tried to get to the area where we are all being illegally detained and searched and quite often harassed, he would not allow me to fly unless/until I got my ticket changed out to what is on my drivers license.

    Police state? Damn straight. "Your papers, please!" I no longer fly because I can no longer bear to have lost my rights as a US citizen, have some moron shove his hands into my pants, force me again and again to open my luggage and lay out my belongings while they smirk. (No, no -- the morons smirk, not my stuff.)

    So I took a train trip this past summer, rather than fly, and on this train and also in the train stations everyone was bombarded with the recorded message that we and our luggage were subject to search, and might be searched, at any time, for who knows what reason, and that we had to be ready to present valid ID to pretty much any mope who said he's got the right to demand it. You can't buy a train ticket without valid ID, you can't pick up the ticket without ID, you can't board the train without ID. Why does our government need to know I'm on a train to visit family, what, am I going to fly the train into a building? How long before I can only carry so much shampoo, and have some shithead looking through my underpants? It's all such bullshit. I've not heard that buses are headed that way until way up this thread but it surely does not surprise me, not one bit.

    Which will leave only driving, but if you happen to be driving in Texas or California or Arizona or New Mexico, you're subject to being stopped and searched to keep the US safe from these bad, bad Mexican people.

    So I say that, for whatever reason, our govt is stripping us, bit by bit, but quite fast now, of many of our fundamental rights. Our birthrights as US citizens; these aren't privileges, like health care would be, these are fundamental rights, to have been protected for all time by the people who set this whole thing up. I don't know why those in power are taking these rights, though I do believe that we have some clues lying about, easily found. But regardless why, these rights are going fast.
    posted by dancestoblue at 3:10 AM on November 26, 2010 [76 favorites]


    A few links I've recently seen, but didn't really have anywhere to put them:

    A menstruating woman is probably not a terrorist.

    "Bizarro world strip club where you're assaulted by people you're not attracted to." (first two and a half minutes only)

    What do the initials "TSA" really stand for?
    posted by gman at 3:19 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


    I like the suggestion that everyone has to draw a cartoon of muhammad before they can get on a plane.

    I'm guessing that's an attempt at humour, but it's worth noting that the 9/11 hijackers appear to have drunk alcohol and attended strip clubs in the run-up to the attack - and those activities were not necessary parts of the plan, whereas being prepared for this would have been. So, as a security procedure, it would be pretty useless - except that it would potentially upset quite a few people, and if the person being upset was also, coincidentally, a terrorist, they might provide some sort of "tell". Unfortunately, the number of false positives would, I imagine, be so vast as to make that useless.

    As far as I can tell, however, TSA officials, at least at the line level, aren't really looking for tells - they are simply (in a perfect world) seeking to apply a technology-based detection system to people as efficiently and comprehensively as possible. Furthermore, if you have lots of people getting very tense and upset in the line anyway, because they are worried about getting cancer or being intimately touched, it probably gets harder to identify people who are tense and upset because they are trying to smuggle a weapon or explosive aboard.
    posted by DNye at 3:28 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    With the sped up motion and the cuts to the printed narrative - This needs a dramatic piano as a soundtrack, like a 1921 Buster Keaton flick.
    posted by the noob at 3:39 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    follow on from Mark Ruffalo link upthread
    Israeli Company Hired by State Government to Spy on Pennsylvanians and Other Americans
    posted by adamvasco at 3:40 AM on November 26, 2010


    dhammond: ou maybe tone down the hysterics if you don't want me to think you're kind of a drama queen.

    Yeah, screw you, buddy.

    TSA Administrative Directive: Opt-Outters To Be Considered “Domestic Extremists”.

    In other words, if you don't like being searched, they're classing you as just short of an actual terrorist, forwarding your info to "Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division, the Extremism and Radicalization branch of the Office of Intelligence & Analysis (IA) division of the Department of Homeland Security."

    Yes, even protesting being searched now classifies you as an undesirable citizen.

    That's worth some fucking hysterics.
    posted by Malor at 3:43 AM on November 26, 2010 [26 favorites]


    So can someone offer some convincing links concerning the effects of an airport X-ray on a bottle of milk?

    Surely this isn't the point - though I feel your outrage- she is all uppity and shit - as well as being knowledgeable about the guidelines and her rights.
    posted by the noob at 3:45 AM on November 26, 2010


    TSA Administrative Directive: Opt-Outters To Be Considered “Domestic Extremists”.

    This link has been trotted out several times in this thread. Note the source, take a look at some of the other drivel on that site, I linked one such piece upthread. Several comments here have already noted that they are unable to find reliable corroboration of that story. The story itself doesn't even have the mystery memo it cites. I still call BS on that until something more reliable comes to light.

    The TSA and our gov't is doing real things that are really outrageous, I don't think we need to resort to making stuff up, or holding up stories that seem made up on their face.
    posted by IvoShandor at 3:49 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


    I'm just glad I never go to America anymore. Not worth the hassle and stress and humiliation.
    posted by jet_manifesto at 4:21 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


    I'm just glad I never go to America anymore. Not worth the hassle and stress and humiliation.

    I'm flying home for Christmas this year, from the U.K. I've read that the airport i'm flying into (Atlanta) will be scanning people as they come in, as well as out. I really, really want to opt-out and refuse to be groped, but I'm worried that they'll prevent me from entering my own country, or worse, make life a living hell for my (British) husband.

    I shouldn't have to worry about this sort of nonsense. This isn't cool.
    posted by ukdanae at 4:25 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I'm waiting for the person who says "You know what? Fuck this bullshit" and strips off in the box. And is then arrested for indecent public exposure. Because I think that's what it's going to take to highlight how utterly ridiculous the options and the regulations limiting them are. Genital pat down from a total stranger: yes. Nudity: outrage!
    posted by DarlingBri at 4:31 AM on November 26, 2010 [11 favorites]


    On all the people who say they don't understand the upsurge in TSA complaints:

    First, unlike all the prior times they've put us through ludicrous processes in the name of security theater, this one's making the news.

    Second, they're actually looking at your effectively naked body. As it often happens, inspiring reaction against one hot-button outrage requires it to collide with another outrage of at least similar power. It doesn't help that, if you refuse the pornograph, they subject you to a process that could well have gotten them arrested if it were not given the official sanction of the state.

    It was still bad before, yes. This was just the breaking straw. Unfortunately, what will probably happen eventually is the TSA will roll back the "security" measures to just before the pornograph and then leave it there. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they were doing this to discover how far they could go before they received meaningful pushback.
    posted by JHarris at 4:37 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    "Because I am wondering why someone would allow herself to be treated so inhumanely by a bunch of thugs with badges when she could easily avoid such an ordeal by putting her breast milk through the x-ray scanner, which, as I linked above, should not harm the breast milk."
    This attitude gives too much power to the people that set the rules. "well, they set the rules, so we must follow the rules, don't cause problems, for gods sake, no body upset the status quo!" She should not have to choose to pass her baby milk through the x-ray machine over being harassed by the TSA agents. She was not "allowing herself" to be treated inhumanely, her rights were being violated. There is a difference.

    The problem with his attitude as that it lends itself to a gradual removal of rights, bit by tiny bit. This comment pretty much sums it up the whole problem for me:
    "Police states happen, sometimes, because of mission creep. Seeing what's tolerated, and if it is, it becomes a permanent feature."
    posted by rubyrudy at 4:53 AM on November 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


    I'm wearing a speedo and flip-flops next time I fly.
    posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 4:54 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


    JHarris: Second, they're actually looking at your effectively naked body.

    It's more than that. Air travellers have been told that we should trust the TSA: that the photos will not be archived, that the pat downs will be impersonal and professional, that potential terrorists children under the age of 12 will not be subject to them, and that there are rules we can opt to work within to make choices in this procedure.

    But that's lies. The photos are routinely archived, the pat downs are at least occasionally abusive, infants and children are being subjected to them, and the rules are being wantonly ignored by TSA staff when they do not, for whatever reason, wish to follow them.

    A percentage of Americans on both sides of political spectrum are going to get revolutionary when government starts fucking with the Bill of Rights. This is not liberal whining about fringe issues; this is about rights explicitly extended to every citizen by the Fourth Amendment:
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
    The constitution and the Bill of Rights are pretty short. They are worth reading, since they are literally the bedrock of how we run our society. This is literally an issue of our most basic civil liberties.
    posted by DarlingBri at 4:58 AM on November 26, 2010 [18 favorites]


    It would be one thing to make the case that her rights were not violated. But I'm not clear on why coming into this thread and saying, oh, who cares, isn't threadshitting, just as iteould be if you did it in any other thread.
    posted by Astro Zombie at 5:00 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    So, these TSA stooges are up on mandatory 2-year sentence charges, amirite?
    (crickets)

    What? Conspiracy to deprive an American Citizen of God-given rights isn't a mandatory hard-time felony type crime?!?!?!

    Ah, I see. American Values(tm)!
    posted by Goofyy at 5:31 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


    It would be funny if it wasn't so sad that a bunch of USians are seriously arguing on the internet about whether detaining a woman and threatening her with arrest for not wanting to have her breast milk X-rayed is a big deal or not.

    Land of the Free --> Land of the Lost.
    posted by unSane at 5:41 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


    USians... or, in English, Americans.
    FTFY.
    posted by monkeyJuice at 5:47 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Hello Dad, I'm in Jail: "I'm wearing a speedo and flip-flops next time I fly."

    Exactly. I've thought this exact same thing, though the fact is that it would pain me considerably to give speedo any money. But a tight, brief swim suit in any case, and the thinnest of sandals, a debit card and a drivers license, mail ahead anything/everything I'll need to be wherever it is I'm going, carry on only a small bag with jeans and shirt to carry-on, put them on after going through their little charade in my little red white and blue swim suit, maybe I could have someone sew stars on the schlong pouch, maybe exploding stars, like a super-heros underpants might look...
    posted by dancestoblue at 5:48 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    USians... or, in English, Americans.
    FTFY.


    Oh god, not this again.
    posted by josher71 at 5:57 AM on November 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


    What would happen if people, masses of people like hundreds in a day, all "said something"

    I can only imagine, hope, and pray something like this!
    posted by mikelieman at 6:02 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    This is a little bit of a nutjob site, but some very interesting suggestions are being made around what the TSA is doing internally. (Allegedly)

    Yes, but it's plausible given the things we know about DHS and their behavior. When your government is feeding you misinformation on a daily basis, the nutjob sites become no worse, as no one has reliable sources of information. This is troubling.
    posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:24 AM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


    Interesting to see the arguments that this was OK. They pretty just focus on it not being a "big deal". I think the vast majority of liberals defending this would be up in arms if this happened during the bush administration. But since Obama is president, and defending this now all of a sudden it's no big deal. Ridiculous.

    Was she held captive? Obviously what happened to her fit the definition of the word, I mean duh.

    Secondly, what happened to her was completely illegal. Whether or not you think carrying breast milk and not wanting it x-rayed is rational, what happened is that when she came back to the same airport she was held captive for an hour, just because she pissed off some TSA thug (And yeah, I would classify anyone who would do such a thing as a thug)
    Because I am wondering why someone would allow herself to be treated so inhumanely by a bunch of thugs with badges when she could easily avoid such an ordeal by putting her breast milk through the x-ray scanner, which, as I linked above, should not harm the breast milk.
    Are you suffering from poor reading comprehension? Are you missing the part where they got revenge on her the next time she was in the airport? How could she have known that that would happen, exactly?
    I don't understand the sudden upsurge in TSA related outrage. I know that a lot of it is also being linked from pretty far right sites (Ron Paul right) -- that instantly makes me suspicious of its intent, despite not being a big fan of the TSA.
    You're not aware that they just instituted new procedures? Yes, people on the right are not happy about it, and I think they're more vocal because criticizing the TSA means criticizing Obama. Check out this hit job on John Tyner in The Nation, accusing him of being a secret Koch-Funded Astroturf agitator because 1) He doesn't vote and 2) considers himself a 'libertarian' of some sort.

    Assuming that the people who are upset with this are conservative plants is the height of brain-dead partisanship. Equivalent to idiots who accepted everything bush did because he was a republican. It's really pretty pathetic.
    In other words, if you don't like being searched, they're classing you as just short of an actual terrorist, forwarding your info to "Homeland Environment Threat Analysis Division, the Extremism and Radicalization branch of the Office of Intelligence & Analysis (IA) division of the Department of Homeland Security."
    At the same time it's important to stay on firm factual ground. All the "domestic extremist stuff" is from blogs and the original source is some random conspiracy theory site who said that "publishing the documents would be illegal" (but quoting was fine, apparently).
    posted by delmoi at 6:24 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


    > I also don't understand the people who would rather be fondled than go through the pornoscanner. Did I miss something? You'd rather have someone feel you up in a demeaning way than have someone see a grayed-out version of you naked?

    I'm gonna be uncomfortable and demeaned either way - if I opt to make them pat me down, I can share some of that discomfort and debasement with my momentary oppressor. I don't fly much, but if I have to go through this, I'm calling someone Daddy while blowing a load on their glove.

    Share the love.
    posted by davelog at 6:29 AM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


    Imho, these agents should be charged with some sort of conspiracy charge, as Goofyy suggest. It's crystal clear they did conspire here, which might make this criminal.
    posted by jeffburdges at 6:29 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    So, coupla random, statistically meaningless and anecdotal bits in terms of mission creep and the public's general understanding of what a slipper slope is.

    1. My mother was listening to her tebagger coworkers talking about how all these delicate flowers are so shy they can't stand the thought of going through the scanner. My mom walked over and explained to them that, with her knee replacement, she not only has to go through the scanner, she also always, always gets the full boob-jiggling, groin groping pat down. Her colleagues seemed surprised that one might have to endure both procedures rather than get to choose for themselves.

    2. I transit through Grand Central Terminal multiple times per week. First, the guardsmen had side arms, then automatic rifles with no clips, and now they have full clips (what they good think an assault rifle will do in GCT is left to the reader's imagination.) Two weeks ago, there was some run of the mill homeless person out on the Vanderbilt entrance. Not being loud or anything, just being kinda homeless and looking a bit crazy. The MTA took one look at him, went inside, then fetched five armed guardsmen to roust him. The whole thing took me less than one Parliament Light.

    The points being that:

    1. the general populace doesn't really know what's going on at airports since they don't fly as often as the upthread maligned "rich white people," so they are just now discovering that "it can happen to them" for certain values of "them" and,

    2. that at some places, these controls already include using the military to harass and threaten people in situations where a little calm police work would suffice.
    posted by digitalprimate at 6:38 AM on November 26, 2010 [18 favorites]


    A slipper slope is a hill that's covered with tennis shoes.
    posted by Astro Zombie at 6:44 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


    As an aside...It's been five years (to the day!) since I last flew anywhere. These TSA agents...Are they armed these days? I can't recall if they were packing when I last flew.
    posted by Thorzdad at 6:54 AM on November 26, 2010


    It would be funny if it wasn't so sad that a bunch of USians . . .

    I know some Canadians so I know not every Canadian is a dumbass. On the contrary some Canadians are very clever, kind, and polite. Not all of them of course I wouldn't say that, every area has its bad apples.
    posted by nola at 6:58 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    It would be funny if it wasn't so sad that a bunch of USians are seriously arguing on the internet about whether detaining a woman and threatening her with arrest for not wanting to have her breast milk X-rayed is a big deal or not.

    Land of the Free --> Land of the Lost.


    It must be nice to live in a country where literally 100% of the citizens believe the same thing, so there are never any arguments about stupid crap your government is doing.
    posted by 23skidoo at 7:03 AM on November 26, 2010


    My mother was listening to her tebagger coworkers … My mom walked over and explained to them that, with her knee replacement, she not only has to go through the scanner, she also always, always gets the full boob-jiggling, groin groping pat down.

    If she's going to get the patdown anyway, why not opt-out and get just the patdown? Also from what I've seen and read the teabaggers are just as up in arms about this, at least the vocal internet ones.
    posted by delmoi at 7:06 AM on November 26, 2010


    delmoi: Are you suffering from poor reading comprehension? Are you missing the part where they got revenge on her the next time she was in the airport? How could she have known that that would happen, exactly?

    No, but apparently you are.

    King Bee: I'm not defending the actions of the TSA agents acting so petty by "getting back at her"

    I was asking why she was so adamant about not having her breast milk x-rayed. After a few comments of people saying "why does that matter", I mentioned that in so doing, she was subjected to unwarranted harassment from a bunch of thugs with badges. If she had allowed her breast milk to go through the x-ray scanner, this probably wouldn't have happened. This is why I was curious as to why it was so important that her breast milk not be x-rayed.

    After reading the links to the scientists who say that the x-ray machines "might" harm the milk, using the same non-committal words as the link I provided saying they wouldn't, I'm still wondering.

    At no point did I defend the TSA agents for what they did. There was a way to avoid this treatment, and I want to know why she didn't take this option. The best argument I've heard so far is that "she is allowed to have her milk screened in a different way by a bunch of sociopaths who already gave her a hard time the week before and are likely to do it again."

    What they did is outrageous and needs to be stopped, but the stand that she took here was probably not the best time to do that, especially since she was trying to get home to feed her infant child.
    posted by King Bee at 7:07 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    >>And that's really what I see here, people who should actually be working at McDonald's for all the care or dedication or expertise they really have.

    >That's not very nice to people who work at McDonald's.


    Not very accurate, either. I go through the drive-through at two McDonalds semi-regularly. (One of my coworkers insists on stopping there every time we drive past; since I like their coffee, I'm happy to go in.) Maybe it's an outcome of the recession, or maybe they are just well-run franchises, but all the employees are polite, hard-working, and busting ass. They have policies to follow, but it is clear that the primary goal is good service.

    In other words, pretty much the opposite of my experiences with the TSA, which are starting to feel more like the unpleasant checkpoint experiences described in the FPP about driving across the Congo. I've had the exact sorts of unpleasant and sometimes scary third-world police/army checkpoints they talked about, where some underpaid and undertrained guy with a gun has the power to make your day crappy if you don't comply. The TSA is heading down that path, without the bribes but with the full power of a huge administrative mechanism behind it.

    It's shitty, and it's seriously un-American. There's enough push-back (happily from left and right both) that they'll have to ratchet it back a bit, but I doubt they will make big changes.
    posted by Forktine at 7:09 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


    I don't understand why you are describing her as taking a stand. She had waited an hour previously for them to confirm regulations. She had every reason to expect that the regulations were now confirmed. And, just in case, she brought them with.
    posted by Astro Zombie at 7:11 AM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


    Worse 'power tri'p than one taken by a mall 'rent-a-cop.' Absurd.
    posted by ericb at 7:17 AM on November 26, 2010


    Phoenix Sky Harbor is the place where the NYC woman was murdered (sorry, 'committed suicide') in custody a few years back. Anyone else remember that?

    I'd say from anecdotal evidence as well as personal experience that cow-like obedience is expected of all travelers moving through Sky Harbor. If you connect there, be wary (and meek).
    posted by solipse at 7:19 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Aaargh ... in the video's text graphic at 10:18:
    "the woman is lectured for several additional minutes before finally being told to leave the security area to sit on the floor and poor her breast milk into eight 1.5 oz. containers."
    It's pour.

    /end of nit.
    posted by ericb at 7:22 AM on November 26, 2010


    This stuff makes me feel old and cranky, because I can remember when all the Republicans that would now be Tea Party types thought the Soviets were all awful because people couldn't travel internally without papers, permission, and harassment by the state.

    The terrorists have won. They gave us the TSA.
    posted by immlass at 7:26 AM on November 26, 2010 [25 favorites]




    On non-preview: but the stand that she took here was probably not the best time to do that

    It's never a convenient time to take a stand for your civil liberties. It's always going to put someone out, starting with you. Maybe less inconvenient, but never convenient.
    posted by immlass at 7:28 AM on November 26, 2010 [18 favorites]


    I suspect that the TSA has a mandate to penetration-test the public's resistance to increasingly Kafkaesque authority.
    posted by K'an at 7:28 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    On a lighter note: TSA needs to opt-out of tweeting and TSA recruiting off pizza boxes
    I was asking why she was so adamant about not having her breast milk x-rayed. After a few comments of people saying "why does that matter", I mentioned that in so doing, she was subjected to unwarranted harassment from a bunch of thugs with badges. If she had allowed her breast milk to go through the x-ray scanner, this probably wouldn't have happened.
    Right, so if a woman comes home late, and her husband is drunk and beats the shit out of her, it's her fault because if she'd just come home on time he wouldn't have done it? Even if you assume that the wife bares responsibility for inciting malicious acts against her, how is she to know that her husband was drunk and would beat her?

    That's my point. This passenger may have incited the revenge by being obnoxious to the TSA people, but she could not have anticipated that revenge would be had the next time she came through the airport. You can't blame people for the unexpected reactions of others, just as you can't blame someone for being the victim of a crime

    It didn't occur to me that anyone could be so dense as to blame someone for being illegally held captive due to vengeful TSA agents, so I assumed you just didn't read closely enough to realize that her carrying the milk through and her being detained for an hour happened on two separate trips to the airport.
    posted by delmoi at 7:29 AM on November 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


    real security theater: michael moore shows up in a turban and fake beard with cardboard tubes and wires strapped to his chest.
    posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 7:31 AM on November 26, 2010


    King Bee: I was asking why she was so adamant about not having her breast milk x-rayed. After a few comments of people saying "why does that matter", I mentioned that in so doing, she was subjected to unwarranted harassment from a bunch of thugs with badges. If she had allowed her breast milk to go through the x-ray scanner, this probably wouldn't have happened. This is why I was curious as to why it was so important that her breast milk not be x-rayed.

    I'm glad we're in agreement that people who don't want to take part in the default system are (at least in this case) being harassed.

    So to answer your question of why she would not want her milk backscattered:

    The TSA tells us the machines are safe. They also tell us they don't archive the photos, that we can opt out, and that hand-pats will be professional. Three out of four of those statements have proven to be false. The machines are new and people are still arguing about the safety of them; the TSA's word isn't good enough for some of us.

    People who are willing to absorb risk for themselves may not be willing to absorb the risk of the unknown when it comes to quite literally the food you are putting into your infant's mouth. I think that's reasonable. For decades we fed infants out of hard plastic bottles because we were all told they were safe; in just the last couple of years, scientists have discovered that they leak BPA chemicals. The EU has banned bottles made from this material and while several companies have voluntarily chosen to stop making them, you can still buy them in the US. Are you going to take this conflicting data and fear for the health of your kids and buy standard bottles made with BPA or are you going to opt out and choose BPA-free ones?
    posted by DarlingBri at 7:32 AM on November 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


    Worse 'power trip' than one taken by a mall 'rent-a-cop.' Absurd.

    and highly predictable: in the same way that pedophiles tend to gravitate to scouting, elementary education, churches and other occupations that provide ready access to their potential victims, the unstable power-hungry bully who would never be tolerated in a temple of retail commerce is drawn to the TSA.
    posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 7:40 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    I'm pretty shocked that there isn't *more* outrage over stories like this, and I'm *really* pissed that most of the mainstream press reporting on these stories have framed the stories in such a way as to make TSA protesters look like marginal characters causing trouble for the rest of us good citizens who just want to go about our business.

    The fact of the matter is that the TSA demonstrates to me how bureaucrats with an axe to grind can make your life very difficult for no reason other than they don't like you. If that isn't an infringement upon my rights, I don't know what is. These guys, on a whim, can make you choose between false options - and if you're not educated enough to understand the false choice being given you, you're screwed.

    I could care less about her breast milk or whether she should have put up a stink or not. I've read enough stories of people who have followed the rules and been harassed to understand that this shit needs to stop *now*, otherwise we're in for a world of hurt.

    Those people who would argue that "if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to be concerned about" just don't get it. It's not about what you have/might do, it's about the arbitrary actions of a nameless, faceless bureaucrat whose sole concern is making sure he/she doesn't fuck up and get into trouble. It's about an agency, the TSA, whose sole job is to provide cover for the federal government when the next attack comes so the Feds can cover their asses.

    That's it.

    Along with automated traffic control systems, we cannot allow this kind of internal monitoring of our citizens to become "acceptable" behavior on the part of our government. It's too rife for abuse and too unlikely to stop real criminals who by now have already figured out a way around them at the cost of our liberty.
    posted by tgrundke at 7:45 AM on November 26, 2010 [12 favorites]


    I don't like the antics of the TSA, especially the lack of operational oversight. And people should be holding them to their rules and doing what they feel is right. To the extent it is rational, anyway. Fear of the X-Ray machines isn't rational. (Or at least working like they should- I would fear that they aren't being maintained or something like that.)

    HOWEVER. People are still trying to blow up aircraft with things hidden on their bodies. That's not OK. It was just a month ago that a toner cartridge full of explosives was, I believe, 17 minutes from exploding a plane.

    I understand taking offense and objecting to what is being done. But putting scare quotes on "threat" and using terms like security theater is really uncalled for. It shows a fundamental lack of knowledge and sensitivity. This is literally life and death.

    The difference for me is that unlike a bus, train or car blowing up, a plane tragedy is physically and psychologically an order of magnitude worse than any of those things. No more or less a tragedy for the unfortunate people on board. Yes, it is unlikely, especially on a per-flight or per-passenger metric. But the impact of such an event would be so bad as to warrant increased security. You know, like 9/11. Don't we owe it to all the people who were affected by that (billions of people) to do everything we can to prevent that kind of thing from happening?

    Here is the thing: terrorists are a wiley bunch. We don't know what they are doing. Or what they will do next. And yes, we can't prevent everything. But we damn well have to try. Not just because protecting the lives of innocent people is, you know, the moral thing to do, but because this is NOTHING compared to what we will be subjected to should one of these nutjobs succeed again.

    Someone showed me an email forward that, uncharacteristically, made a lot of sense. They just need to build a machine that is guaranteed to detonate any explosives that might be on a person. Completely harmless otherwise. That would solve the (airplane) terrorism problem in no time. One terrorist gets blown to smithereens inside a blast proof box, and its over.
    posted by gjc at 7:46 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    It's the inconsistencies which are, in my opinion, far more dangerous.

    Two weeks ago, the woman behind me in line cleared security in AUS for a flight without any ID at all. She had a Costco card and a Visa card and they considered that adequate ID.

    I am not in the least surprised that a low-ranking LEO decided to take petty revenge. This kind of shit happens all the time. Sometimes cops (and let's face it, TSA agents are cops, sorta) abuse their power.

    I'm not saying we should take it, but we definitely shouldn't be surprised, either.

    Just remember this: really excellent, quality, effective security costs money. Lots and lots of money. I'm all for having really excellent, quality, effective security. I'll chip in with my taxes.

    Who's with me?

    posted by Thistledown at 7:49 AM on November 26, 2010


    I'm waiting for the person who says "You know what? Fuck this bullshit" and strips off in the box.

    Happened earlier this week in San ("Don't Touch My Junk") Diego: Passenger Chooses Strip-Down Over Pat-Down; Arrested.
    posted by ericb at 7:56 AM on November 26, 2010


    That toner cartridge was on a cargo plane, not strapped to anyone's body. And definitely not hidden in a container of breast milk.
    posted by sugarfish at 7:57 AM on November 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


    They just need to build a machine that is guaranteed to detonate any explosives that might be on a person.

    When was the last time someone tried to get on airplane with fully made explosives attached to them? The underwear bomber did not get on a plane with a ready-to-blow explosive on his person, if you'll recall. He attempted to mix different explosive materials while on board the airplane. If you had stopped him in Amsterdam and put him in a machine designed to detonate any explosives, nothing would have happened.

    So, no, it's actually a dumb idea.
    posted by lullaby at 7:58 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


    ukdanae: I'm flying home for Christmas this year, from the U.K. I've read that the airport i'm flying into (Atlanta) will be scanning people as they come in, as well as out.

    The Atlanta airport is incredibly inefficient. If you're coming in from an international flight, your only option is to go through security screening as if you were picking up a domestic connection, even if you're not. So you'll have to get your check-through, haul it to another counter to re-check it, and then go through security all so that you can pass through the domestic flights terminals on your way out.(I did this just a couple months ago and there were no terahertz imaging machines, but that could have changed. At any rate they do X-ray your carry-on.) Then you'll once again claim the bags you just had to claim and check back through. Eventually, that is: as long as it takes you to get through security, you'll be amazed at how much longer your bags will take.
    posted by solotoro at 7:58 AM on November 26, 2010


    ukdanae - If you are flying through Heathrow you may be selected for random body screening at the security checkpoint - see here. If you refuse, you cannot ask for a patdown - you will not be allowed to fly.

    Having just flown from London to Los Angeles and back last week, I breezed through LAX with no delays or hassles from security both entering and leaving, but hassled at every step of the way through Heathrow.
    posted by aiglet at 8:00 AM on November 26, 2010


    Don't we owe it to all the people who were affected by that (billions of people) to do everything we can to prevent that kind of thing from happening?

    No, really, we don't. We owe it to the world to take reasonable precautions and to react like adults when something bad happened. Terrorism on airplanes and other public transit has been going on for decades in Europe without it being necessary to pornoscan or gate rape everyone. Also, they didn't start two wars over any of it, including one with a country that wasn't even involved.

    We should take reasonable efforts to stop terrorism but we can never get down to zero risk. We need to acknowledge that and strike a better balance than the one we currently have. Flying will always be a risk (planes malfunction too). If you can't accept that no safety system is perfect, don't fly.
    posted by immlass at 8:00 AM on November 26, 2010 [25 favorites]


    I'm wearing a speedo and flip-flops next time I fly.

    Happened earlier this week: Student Strips Down To Speedo At Salt Lake City Airport (w/video).

    And ...

    Traveler Wears Bikini Through LAX Security (w/video).
    posted by ericb at 8:00 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    gjc -

    That's a fairly well reasoned argument you make, but guess what? That toner cartridge issue was cargo, not people, and the TSA scanners/pat down *never* would have caught that. In fact, enough junk has slipped through the TSA scanners and patdowns (the guy from Mythbusters comes to mind) to make it plain as day that something will get through the screening.

    Anyone who is that intent on either killing themselves or inflicting massive casualties upon others will find a way around a simple screening process.

    GJC - what I'm saying is this: the screening process isn't going to catch any *real* criminals or terrorist threats, but it is going to be part of the process that slowly whittles away our freedoms in the name of (false) security.
    posted by tgrundke at 8:01 AM on November 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


    Fear of the X-Ray machines isn't rational.

    That's debatable. Most scientists are saying there is some risk, although it's very low, but remember there is no safe dose of radiation. You get radiation just being on the plane, higher in the atmosphere, but adding additional radiation on top of that will cause problems. The overall risk is low, but it's not clear that the risk is lower then the risk of being killed by turrists.

    Here's a very detailed blog entry by a cancer researcher. One important point:
    Which brings me to how the scanner works. Essentially, it appears that an X-ray beam is rastered across the body, which highlights the importance of one of the specific concerns raised by the UCSF scientists... what happens if the machine fails, or gets stuck, during a raster. How much radiation would a person's eye, hand, testicle, stomach, etc be exposed to during such a failure. What is the failure rate of these machines? What is the failure rate in an operational environment? Who services the machine? What is the decay rate of the filter? What is the decay rate of the shielding material?
    (The machine actually uses a powerful x-ray emitter, which is then mostly blocked by a filter. But you can remove the filter to make it work like a traditional X-Ray if you want)
    posted by delmoi at 8:01 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


    If she had allowed her breast milk to go through the x-ray scanner, this probably wouldn't have happened. This is why I was curious as to why it was so important that her breast milk not be x-rayed.

    One of the most difficult situations a public servant can be in is a situation where a member of the public is being whiny, obstreporous, even a jerk, but is absolutely, on the money, 100% within her rights. The right thing to do is to suck it up and follow policy. The wrong thing to do is to be an even bigger jerk.

    I don't even think she went very far on the jerk-o-meter, maybe not even as far as cranky-pants. She seems reasonable and collected on most of the video, even if she was furious. She has a constructive interaction with the municipal cops, for example.

    The TSA folks are pegging the needle at full-on asshat jerkitude though. The thing is, as presented, she's try to follow their procedure. The agents clearly don't want to be bothered do so. It doesn't matter why she want what she wants, policy has been decided at senoir levels in the TSA and it is not the job of the operational folks who run the screen checkpoints to alter or adapt it or do what ever they feel like. It's their job, and only their job, to follow procedure.

    The good functioning of government depends on this. If you're a public servant who can't follow rules, you shouldn't be a public servant. Letting agents get away with arbitrary, ad hoc "policies" is the start of a slippery downward slope that leads to corruption and compromising the security they're trying to ensure.
    posted by bonehead at 8:04 AM on November 26, 2010 [30 favorites]


    It didn't occur to me that anyone could be so dense as to blame someone for being illegally held captive due to vengeful TSA agents, so I assumed you just didn't read closely enough to realize that her carrying the milk through and her being detained for an hour happened on two separate trips to the airport.

    Yeah, sorry. I'm dense and an idiot. Also, I often blame women for being the victims of domestic violence.
    posted by King Bee at 8:11 AM on November 26, 2010


    In fact, enough junk has slipped through the TSA scanners and patdowns (the guy from Mythbusters comes to mind) to make it plain as day that something will get through the screening.

    Directly from the TSA:

    TSA Week at a Glance: 11/15/10 through 11/21/10
    2 artfully concealed prohibited items found at checkpoints
    12 firearms found at checkpoints
    14 passengers were arrested after investigations of suspicious behavior or fraudulent travel documents


    If they're spending $1.8 million per day and only finding 0.3 prohibited items, it seems like the scanners simply aren't worth the money, because I'm pretty sure at least 1 prohibited item gets through every day, if not 2 or 3 or maybe even 4 if someone's coming back from Amsterdam.
    posted by cmonkey at 8:16 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


    I understand taking offense and objecting to what is being done. But putting scare quotes on "threat" and using terms like security theater is really uncalled for. It shows a fundamental lack of knowledge and sensitivity. This is literally life and death.

    The words "security theater" are used because they are describing things that do not actually make people more secure, while putting on a show of false security. They are simply reacting to previous failed plots in almost cartoonish fashion rather than actually fixing security conditions in any meaningful way. Anyone serious about airline security will tell you that you need to stop airline threats before the perpetrators get to the airport. Increasing harassment of airline travelers helps nobody except the tinpot dictators who work for the TSA. Think about it for a second: this screening has never actually prevented a single incident. They should focus on checking bags and go back to having everybody walk through a magnetometer with their damn shoes on. (For more good commentary, there's always Schneier.)
    posted by graymouser at 8:19 AM on November 26, 2010 [15 favorites]


    cmonkey - thanks for the stats. And I like how they refer to "2 artfully concealed prohibited items". Would that include things like the story about the snowglobe which was confiscated from an 11 year old girl...or the breastmilk in the case at hand?

    Gimmie a break. Like I said - if someone is intent on causing severe harm to the flying public, they're going to do it with or without the damned scanners in place.
    posted by tgrundke at 8:22 AM on November 26, 2010


    For those of us old enough to remember, the TSA comes across very much like the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. No government agency, no matter what its mission, should ever be above the law.
    posted by tommasz at 8:22 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


    In related news: US to Drop Color-Coded Terror Alerts Introduced by the Bush Administration in March 2002.

    Ah, memories of stirring up 'fear' as a political tool.
    " ... critics of the Bush administration argued that the system was a political tool.

    And even Tom Ridge, the secretary of homeland security under President George W. Bush, has raised questions [about the color coded terror alerts]. In his memoir, 'The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege ... And How We Can Be Safe Again,' Mr. Ridge said Attorney General John Ashcroft and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, pushed for an elevated terrorism level in October 2004 after a threatening tape from Osama bin Laden was revealed.

    Mr. Ridge wrote that after 'a vigorous, some might say dramatic, debate, I wondered, "Is this about security, or politics?"'"
    posted by ericb at 8:23 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    graymouser - "security theater" is great. Reminds me of stories from the early years of the space program where NASA officials would show reporters and astronauts' wives various pieces of safety equipment to calm their fears. The astronauts themselves knew that there was little chance of these devices actually saving their lives in the event of a major malfunction, but it made the public feel better.

    Same with the space shuttle. The ejection seats in Columbia for the first few missions were little more than to appease public concerns about safety. Crippen and Young knew damned well that the window of opportunity to actually use those seats was so limited that it was more of a liability to have them onboard than not.

    Automated traffic enforcement devices are being sold to the public as a way to enhance safety, just as TSA scanners are. It's all BS.
    posted by tgrundke at 8:26 AM on November 26, 2010


    ericb: Happened earlier this week: Student Strips Down To Speedo At Salt Lake City Airport (w/video). And ... Traveler Wears Bikini Through LAX Security (w/video)

    Bikini video for people outside the US.

    I applaud these people for this form of protest. But the reason I'm suggesting stripping off in the box if you are held for extra screening (a pat down) is that as far as I'm aware, the assignments for random screening are done at the check in counter. So showing the TSA staff that you are in your bathing suit and have nothing to hide doesn't actually make them less likely to pat you down. See this video from 2:50.

    Obviously, if you opt out of the pornoscanner and opt into a manual search, the bikini will make no difference - they are still going to feel you up, since that's what opting into a manual search means.

    Or am I missing something about the way this works?
    posted by DarlingBri at 8:26 AM on November 26, 2010


    Those people who would argue that "if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to be concerned about" just don't get it. It's not about what you have/might do, it's about the arbitrary actions of a nameless, faceless bureaucrat whose sole concern is making sure he/she doesn't fuck up and get into trouble. It's about an agency, the TSA, whose sole job is to provide cover for the federal government when the next attack comes so the Feds can cover their asses.

    That's it.


    Agreed, just following orders is never a defense. But you cannot seriously believe that the TSA's job is to provide cover. You seem to be saying that they might as well be using cardboard props, so long as they can say "we were running everyone through the machines, we did our best." I don't buy it. They are trying to cover their asses the right way, which is to get the job done. They may not be doing a great job of it, but I also haven't heard any better ideas. (Actually, the backscatters ARE the best idea so far, but someone decided they were just a cover for perverts to get their jollies looking at outlines of fat people, and to accomplish their goal, perpetuated the danger myths.)

    Along with automated traffic control systems, we cannot allow this kind of internal monitoring of our citizens to become "acceptable" behavior on the part of our government. It's too rife for abuse and too unlikely to stop real criminals who by now have already figured out a way around them at the cost of our liberty.

    First, because something has the potential for abuse doesn't mean we should not do it or have it. By that logic, most drugs ought not be manufactured. No, when something has the potential for abuse, but also has legitimate purposes, we just need to make sure we have good oversight.

    When you say automated traffic control systems, I assume you mean red light cameras. I agree, for the most part. I have no problem at all with their stated goal, which is to stop people from running red lights. (*) That's illegal, that's dangerous, and there is no excuse for it. (**)

    But that's not what happened, they were implemented in almost every wrong way possible. First, most places did some kind of end-run around the law and made the red light violations something akin to a civil infraction, like a parking ticket. That's not right: the crime is the crime, no matter how you are caught. But they did it because they didn't want to get hassled. Because those so called infractions don't carry the same (theoretically) level of punishment as quasi-criminal ones like an actual moving violation, people cited have fewer rights at contesting them. It makes sense for a parking ticket: you own the car, it was somewhere it shouldn't be, it's your problem to deal with who put it there unless you can show it wasn't actually your car. Completely wrong.

    And instead of increasing the rate at which egregious offenders were caught, they tended to increase the rate at which minor infractions of the traffic code were cited- if you complied with the spirit of the law, but your bumper was 6 inches over the line, you'd get nicked just as badly as someone who went careening through the intersection. That's not justice, and it's wrong.

    Two howevers: one, they are being a good lesson in civics. Many municipalities are shutting them down because their citizens complained. That's a good thing- it reminds citizens and elected officials that their power stems from the citizens, and if the citizens object, elected officials must change or lose their jobs.

    Secondly, it isn't monitoring. At least as I understand monitoring to mean in this context. They aren't recording someone's whereabouts in any different way than would happen if someone would get an old fashioned traffic ticket. No rights are being violated. Our movements aren't being recorded. The designers of the machines, partly to comply with privacy concerns, made sure that the machines aren't even on unless the light is red, and the cameras don't record unless a sensor is triggered. And even if they were, that wouldn't violate any rights. Where you are, in public, isn't private data. If someone can see you, or can follow you around, it isn't private. (That would be creepy, no arguments.)

    There still is a pretty bright line for those kinds of rights, and that line isn't halfway down a slippery slope. It might be easy for red light cams to turn into data logging of people's locations. It would be very hard for that to turn into something nefarious, like "you were in the same city as a murder, you're guilty." Our justice system still works. Evidence still has to show only what it proves or disproves, not what it implies.

    (*) At least in my state: In Illinois, someone with police power has to sign off on the citation. So there is at least some ground-level oversight there. And (I believe) the law said that if a private company operates the cameras, their compensation cannot be a cut of the revenues- it has to be a flat fee. It's dead wrong when an intern at Haliburton or Siemens can issue a citation and make the company $40.

    (**) Except for the people who hold the belief that nothing is wrong unless you get caught. I can see where they would have a problem with them- if you think the police have to catch you first, you'll have a problem with them if they find an easier way to catch you. They are wrong, but it's something.
    posted by gjc at 8:28 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


    HOWEVER. People are still trying to blow up aircraft with things hidden on their bodies. That's not OK. It was just a month ago that a toner cartridge full of explosives was, I believe, 17 minutes from exploding a plane.

    That was on a UPS cargo plane. The pornoscanners and the patdowns are irrelevant to the toner cartridges.
    posted by Sticherbeast at 8:30 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    The words "security theater" are used because they are describing things that do not actually make people more secure, while putting on a show of false security. They are simply reacting to previous failed plots in almost cartoonish fashion rather than actually fixing security conditions in any meaningful way.

    I want the "add dozens of favorites" pony. Like many people, I'm actually more or less ok with infringements on a strict reading of my constitutional rights if something really does make me safer. (Something like background checks on handgun purchases comes to mind.) But gross infringements for something that doesn't add meaningful safety, and in fact reduces it because we've put all our resources into this crap? I'm not cool with that.
    posted by Forktine at 8:33 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


    gjc - well put. I'm avoiding a lengthy response about traffic enforcement, but I generally agree with your points.

    I should have been more nuanced in my statement about the sole purpose of the TSA being to cover the government's ass.
    posted by tgrundke at 8:34 AM on November 26, 2010


    They just need to build a machine that is guaranteed to detonate any explosives that might be on a person. Completely harmless otherwise.

    Explosives rely on very strong chemical bonds being broken to release energy. The amount of energy input required to break these bonds tends to be high, such as an open flame, kinetic shock or electrical pulse. Routinely exposing innocent people to high energy sources is probably not ever going to be harmless.
    posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:36 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Moment of shocking ignorance here, since I have flown four times in my life: if the TSA detains you and makes you late for a flight, do you have to buy another ticket? What happens next?
    posted by adipocere at 8:37 AM on November 26, 2010


    Obviously, if you opt out of the pornoscanner and opt into a manual search, the bikini will make no difference - they are still going to feel you up, since that's what opting into a manual search means.

    As their policy goes, I'm not sure. It's a bureaucracy, so you never know how ass-kissy the intern writing the policy wanted to be.

    But the spirit of the regulation is to make sure nothing is hidden. If the bikini is sufficiently form-fitting, I believe a manual inspection would not reveal anything a visual inspection would. As I understand it, the inspections aren't intended to be actual genital palpitations. Just a leg-patting that goes all the way up, and a hip-pat that covers everything but the genitals, and buttock-al regions that aren't obvious to the naked eye. Unfortunately, even though they are trying NOT to touch junk, it accidentally happens. Again, my understanding is that all they are trying to find (that is different from the older regulations) is things strapped to the thigh, or anything inside the underpants large enough to be noticed during that. And also funny waistbands.

    It would certainly be ridiculous for them to still start at the ankles and pat their way up on bare skin. And legitimate grounds for complaint.
    posted by gjc at 8:39 AM on November 26, 2010


    Explosives rely on very strong chemical bonds being broken to release energy. The amount of energy input required to break these bonds tends to be high, such as an open flame, kinetic shock or electrical pulse. Routinely exposing innocent people to high energy sources is probably not ever going to be harmless.

    To be fair, for an internet forward, it's damn near genius. I agree, I'm sure it's not actually possible.

    Actually, for something like C-4, even those methods you mention aren't sufficient. If you hold a match to it, I think it just burns like any other organic might. You need an actual blasting cap, which actually makes a tiny explosion of its own to start the bigger explosion.
    posted by gjc at 8:44 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Unfortunately, even though they are trying NOT to touch junk, it accidentally happens.

    I haven't experienced this, but isn't the point not that they _want_ to touch people's bits, but that touching the bits is the sign that they have gone as far up as one might reasonably conceal something? I don't know quite how this works for women, but the process as described to Jeffrey Goldberg specifically involves moving the hands up until they touched his bits, which is the sign that they have gone far enough (or too far, depending on who you're talking to).

    Where that leaves body cavities, which you'd think would be the logical place to stash things which you didn't want to show up on a backscatter machine, a metal detector or a pat-down, is an open question. Although probably one you wouldn't want to ask too loudly during a pat-down.
    posted by DNye at 8:53 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Being allowed to do something is not a reason for doing it.

    Some of us don't appreciate being stepped on. What is the point of having choice when there is a right choice and a (secretly) wrong choice?
    posted by Dark Messiah at 8:53 AM on November 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


    To be fair, for an internet forward, it's damn near genius. I agree, I'm sure it's not actually possible.

    Are we prepared to rule in impossible solutions for airport security? If so, I'm going to make a strong case for surface psychic monitoring by psionic scanners placed at check-in. Mental detectors, if you will. Although the Supreme Court might have to rule on whether one's mind is covered by the Fourth Amendment...
    posted by DNye at 8:56 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Actually, for something like C-4, even those methods you mention aren't sufficient. If you hold a match to it, I think it just burns like any other organic might. You need an actual blasting cap, which actually makes a tiny explosion of its own to start the bigger explosion.

    Correct. I've been told (by a Marine) that extra C4 has been used as cooking fuel because it burns stably without exploding. You don't want to put the fire out by stomping on it, though.
    posted by Thistledown at 8:56 AM on November 26, 2010


    Dark Messiah nails it with that comment. Sure, TSA gives you an opt-out, but they make it a humiliating, time consuming, acrimonious opt-out. They also know that most people want to be accomodating, most people aren't troublemakers, and that at the end of the day most people will simply comply and move along.

    That's the path to servitude and we're moving there faster than people think.
    posted by tgrundke at 8:57 AM on November 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


    Routinely exposing innocent people to high energy sources is probably not ever going to be harmless.

    Oh, come on. The tasering would just part of routine procedure. I'm sure it's safe for even babies and pregnant women and the infirm. It's only a couple little of little pricks.
    posted by bonehead at 8:57 AM on November 26, 2010


    I'm waiting for the person who says "You know what? Fuck this bullshit" and strips off in the box. And is then arrested for indecent public exposure. Because I think that's what it's going to take to highlight how utterly ridiculous the options and the regulations limiting them are. Genital pat down from a total stranger: yes. Nudity: outrage!

    I saw this very thing only a day or two ago, but google is failing me now: a video blogger and sex trade worker who was flying to Sri Lanka and decided to put this to the test, on the basis that while a lot of people had reservations about being seen nude, she had none. She arrived at the airport and before going through the security screening stripped down to a see-through camisole and panties, while she left her iPhone camera recording. The very first thing that happens is that the TSA screeners tell her to put her jacket back on.
    posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:58 AM on November 26, 2010


    gjc:
    As their policy goes, I'm not sure. It's a bureaucracy, so you never know how ass-kissy the intern writing the policy wanted to be... But the spirit of the regulation is to make sure nothing is hidden. If the bikini is sufficiently form-fitting, I believe a manual inspection would not reveal anything a visual inspection would.


    Right, that is my understanding of the intent as well. But I am pretty sure that someone opting for an enhanced pat down in a bikini will still be patted down, for two reasons:

    1) The regulations say: scanner or pat down. "Visual inspection" isn't an option, even though a visual inspection may be entirely sufficient.

    2) They're not declining to pass on screaming, terrified kids yelling NO NO NO MOMMY NO so I'm just not confident that any kind of measure of sense is at play here.

    You're giving the TSA at least theoritical credit for a rational approach here that so far, I really have just not seen in play. I'll lay money on the line that bikini + no backscatter = pat down.
    posted by DarlingBri at 8:58 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    It would certainly be ridiculous for them to still start at the ankles and pat their way up on bare skin.


    'Ridiculous' is not a concept that screners are familiar with. As I mentioned here two years ago, I have had airport screeners feel carefully along my bare arms while I was in short sleeves.
    posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:03 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    I think that, out of respect of the tragedy of 9/11 and in the interests of security to prevent future 9/11s, we should dress TSA agents as giant owls and have them stare gloomily at us from high atop artificial trees. We should then also have children dressed as mice crawl about the floor of the area, muttering various squeaks and yawps. They would be swooped up at random intervals by the TSA-owls, who launch themselves from their trees through the use of elastic wires, carrying the screaming mice-children with iron talons.

    Then, as we ourselves are brought in for security patdowns, the agents on the ground can ask us, in their most serious of their serious voices, "Sir, that mouse was a terrorist. Are you a mouse? Are you a terrorist? Do you not fear the owls? If you were a terrorist mouse, you would be filled with owl-fear."

    And brother, if you say anything other than "I am not a mouse, I am not a terrorist, but I fear the owls all the same, because they are a powerful force," then you would be regarded as a lunatic, and rightly so.
    posted by Sticherbeast at 9:06 AM on November 26, 2010 [27 favorites]


    You need an actual blasting cap, which actually makes a tiny explosion of its own to start the bigger explosion.

    That would be the kinetic shock.
    posted by kuujjuarapik at 9:07 AM on November 26, 2010


    Quoted from a friend on Facebook this morning:
    Also - some distressing news: MIL tells us that she indicated to the Ft. Laud airport TSA that she would prefer the pat down to the scanner, and was told that she would go through the scanner or she "would not be flying today." WTF?? We will have to look into this.
    Anecdotal but very worrying. If this happens to me, I will miss my plane and be lawyering up.
    posted by immlass at 9:09 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    maybe they think the theater will make people feel safer

    This is fairly obviously the case. As Patrick Smith at Salon has pointed out once or twice, there is essentially no screening of cargo while there is heavier screening all the time of pasengers. This is because, of course, the passengers see the increased security for themselves but there is no audience for the screening of cargo, so it would be money poorly spent. No point in having a big showstopping number in the dressing room instead of onstage.
    posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:15 AM on November 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


    Just for the record: I don't like this any more than anyone else. No more than I like colonoscopies or prostate checks. Someday there will surely be easier ways to get the job done, but for now, nobody has thought of one.

    gjc - well put. I'm avoiding a lengthy response about traffic enforcement, but I generally agree with your points.

    You are a better man/woman than I. [hat tip]

    That was on a UPS cargo plane. The pornoscanners and the patdowns are irrelevant to the toner cartridges.

    I could be wrong, but one or more of the devices in that attack were on passenger jets. Nonetheless, the point was that there are still people trying to fuck around with planes, and in very recent history.

    security theater

    First, I again object to this term because it is just so snarky and ignorant. The threat is real. The attempts to prevent it are genuine, even though they are at times clumsy and wrong.

    And the argument of how it is just chasing the last attempt is silly. Why do we think terrorists monolithic and possess any greater intelligence or wisdom than anyone else? We check for things that have happened before because we know they have happened before- if something happened once, there's a good bet it will happen again. It's not like metal detectors at courthouses and schools has stopped people from trying to bring in guns and knives. If they DIDN'T keep checking for the old ways, that would just make the old ways that much more attractive, and that same chorus would be shrieking about how we "knew what they were trying and yet the TSA did nothing".

    Look, this isn't a war that can be won. We just have to try to figure how to lose the least. We lose if we fight, we lose if we don't. There is no way out- but I fall on the side of trying to keep the actual physical harm to a minimum. If anyone has a better solution, I'm sure we would all be delighted to hear it.

    And also because part of a security plan IS the theater of it. If someone knows the easy routes will be blocked, they give up or they try the more difficult routes. This makes them more likely to fail or be exposed. It's like barbed wire- it can be breached, but it is slower and harder to do. Fewer people will attempt to climb the fence because it is scary, and those who do are more likely to be caught.
    posted by gjc at 9:17 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Someday there will surely be easier ways to get the job done, but for now, nobody has thought of one.

    [Citation needed].
    posted by George_Spiggott at 9:19 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


    This is because, of course, the passengers see the increased security for themselves but there is no audience for the screening of cargo, so it would be money poorly spent. No point in having a big showstopping number in the dressing room instead of onstage.

    This argument can't be true or else people would be happy about the enhanced screenings. Or are you making a sheeple argument?

    There is screening of cargo, it is just different because the threat is different. The biggest is the barrier to entry- bulk cargo goes through channels that are more trusted and more difficult to infiltrate than buying a $49 super saver with cash or a faked credit card. And thanks to the latest assholes, the other kind will be scrutinized more heavily. And people, on average, care less if a plane full of Furbies goes down than if a plane full of people.
    posted by gjc at 9:26 AM on November 26, 2010


    I could be wrong, but one or more of the devices in that attack were on passenger jets. Nonetheless, the point was that there are still people trying to fuck around with planes, and in very recent history.

    UPS and FedEx. The passenger plane that was grounded in NYC was grounded out of an "excess of caution" - there was no bomb on it.

    The thing about the toner cartridge bombs is that all this business about patdowns and backscatters is completely and totally and irrelevant to it. It also highlights how the resources of the TSA have been diverted to security theater and away from things that might be useful, like examining cargo.

    It's also interesting in how the toner business was defused through on the ground human intelligence - a Yemeni informant. Human intelligence is exactly the sort of thing that gets the short shrift when ignoramuses decide instead to line Chertoff's pockets and buy $25 million worth of backscatter devices.
    posted by Sticherbeast at 9:29 AM on November 26, 2010 [13 favorites]


    And the argument of how it is just chasing the last attempt is silly.

    It is not silly, that's literally how they are pursuing things. Shoe bomber? Take off your shoes. Underwear bomber? Invasive scanning. Explosives in print cartridges? No print cartridges. These are marginal techniques, as Schneier points out if you read the article I had linked - dude is a security expert, and if you actually read his critique of security theater it's a problem because it diverts time and money from things that are actually effective.

    The things that they already had in place - magnetometers and baggage scanning - are the actual effective things when it comes to physical security in an airport. Beyond that, if you take security seriously, you have to stop threats before they come into the airport, train passengers to react, and try to fix your underlying foreign policy that is actually creating terrorism. Nobody is willing to do the last one, so terrorists will keep doing things that the TSA hasn't gotten around to yet, in increasingly ineffective plots (since putting together improvised explosives on an airplane is not a very effective tactic), and TSA will keep taking asinine, expensive measures that do no good.
    posted by graymouser at 9:29 AM on November 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


    Some of us don't appreciate being stepped on. What is the point of having choice when there is a right choice and a (secretly) wrong choice?

    That's true. But then you have to define what being stepped on means. A free society might need the "you can't tell me what to do" people, but that doesn't mean we have to like them.
    posted by gjc at 9:32 AM on November 26, 2010


    Some old new: TSA takes kid's prosthetic legs.

    Some new news: Guilty of menstruating.

    It astounds me that there are people who, apparently sincerely, do not believe that this is a big step down a very slippery slope. Do they not know that Italy, Spain, Germany, and Hungary all fell to fascist governance within the modern, past century? I can't believe they look at the UK's surveillance society without recoiling in horror. How can they deny the prescient truthiness of 1984, The Handmaid's Tale, Brave New World, Brazil, etc?

    How on earth can they see America as being immune to a government powered by authoritarianism, an economy driven by corporatism, and a people enervated by nationalism? By gods, how is is that not a description of the current America?

    The fourth amendment: secure from all unreasonable searches, and seizures! Taking kids' legs and scanning for maxipads and wrecking baby food is UNREASONABLE and it is utterly ineffective, extremely expensive theatre.

    If the supposedly intelligent and reasonable population of MeFi is a-clutter with milquetoast apologists for incompetent and rights-violating government, the teeming masses of nitwits who enable the election of unscrupulous opportunists to positions of abusive power are a guarantee that the situation is going to get much, much worse.

    Reasonable people should be a little unsettled and thinking about their future in the West. Our society and culture are rapidly headed toward a very bad end.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:35 AM on November 26, 2010 [51 favorites]


    I could be wrong, but one or more of the devices in that attack were on passenger jets.

    You're sort of right - there were two devices, one found in Dubai and one here in the United Kingdom. Both were found on cargo planes, but might previously have been on Qatar Airways passenger planes - but the pat-down would have had no effect, because they were not carried in hand luggage or about people's persons - they were just hitching a ride in cargo to the nextproper cargo plane. There was no plot to blow any passenger plane up.

    What did prevent them from detonating, or at least from attempts being made to detonate them at the appropriate time, was intelligence work and intelligence sharing between countries.

    It's OK to be reassured by extra security measures for people boarding planes - that's a positive benefit, because it means you will feel more secure during your flight. However, it's not necessarily rational to be so.
    posted by DNye at 9:37 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Now they use their underwear, next they will use their ass. What then, TSA?
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:41 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    That's true. But then you have to define what being stepped on means. A free society might need the "you can't tell me what to do" people, but that doesn't mean we have to like them.

    I get the impression that people who stand up for their rights irritate you more than having your rights infringed.
    posted by krinklyfig at 9:48 AM on November 26, 2010 [18 favorites]


    First, I again object to this term because it is just so snarky and ignorant. The threat is real. The attempts to prevent it are genuine, even though they are at times clumsy and wrong.

    Clumsy, wrong, and ineffective. Did we have to start taking off our shoes before the shoe bomber? Did we have pornoscanners before the underwear bomber? Did we have to start putting out less-than-3 ounces of liquids in ziploc bags before the liquid explosives people?

    No. After. All of this happened after. If the next would-be airplane terrorist hides explosives in his rectum, will we all have to be subject to a finger-up-the-butt search? But I guess we should just bend over and take it, in the name of National Security!!1!

    And now incoming passengers will have to be screened as they leave some airports. Why? What can you have acquired, 35,000 feet up, that would make you so dangerous? If intelligence comes to light that a passenger on the plane is in fact a terrorist, then why does everyone on the plane have to be screened when they get off?

    I'm not sure that even Ionesco could have come up with such absurdities.
    posted by rtha at 9:51 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    And also because part of a security plan IS the theater of it.

    Just curious ... on what basis are you making these arguments? Is there some evidence to back up your assertions, or are you just making assumptions based on your impressions? I ask because the evidence that this is security theater and largely ineffective is made by highly credible and well established security experts.

    Meanwhile, you keep defending the TSA against the term "security theater" apparently because they mean well, regardless how effective the measures are .... so are you trying to make sure we don't hurt their feelings? What is so objectionable about a well qualified critical observation about a government program?
    posted by krinklyfig at 9:55 AM on November 26, 2010


    As someone who does not fly often...what happens if the TSA makes you miss your flight? Are you just put on next available? Do you have to pay for a new ticket?
    posted by sio42 at 9:58 AM on November 26, 2010


    inparticularity : What the fuck do the other definitions have to do with anything? Do they somehow make the first definition less valid?

    When you resort to quoting definitions to argue semantics, a few rules apply that nicely parallel the least-restrictive / most-restrictive model.

    If arguing that the word works as intended, you need only find one (credible) definition that matches your use to prove your point.

    If arguing that the word doesn't mean what the writer intended, you need to demonstrate that no definition matches your opponent's use. And while "credible" still applies to some degree, it does so less rigorously.

    Basically, it takes a hell of a lot more work to prove what a word doesn't mean, and unless your opponent drastically misspoke, you will end up arguing about the credibility of the definition.. Making the argument two full context-shifts removed from meaningful discussion of the original point.

    And this post makes it three.

    Which hopefully the mods will excuse, I get sick of seeing this same issue come up time and again as various participants in the discussion attack each others' poor word choices rather than address the actual topic... And sadly, I can't claim I don't fall into this on occasion myself, but I think it does help if everyone knows the game rules that apply.
    posted by pla at 9:58 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    The next one will not be up the ass, but surgically inserted in the abdomen. After that, everyone will be X-rayed, like it or not.

    The TSA procedures did not catch the shoe bomber, or the underwear bomber, or the liquids guys, or the toner cartridges, because they simply do not work. They are, as Bruce Schneier famously pointed out, based on magical thinking.

    The TSA procedures are not a side-effect of the attacks, or a response to the attack, or (God knows) a defence against the attacks. They are the intended effect of the attacks..

    America is essentially being trolled. All the so-called terrorists have to do is think up increasingly absurd forms of attack and without fail, watch the US rise to the bait, chasing its own tail as it sacrifices the very qualities on which its supposed exceptionalism is based on the altar of an entirely fake sense of security.
    posted by unSane at 10:03 AM on November 26, 2010 [82 favorites]


    There was a way to avoid this treatment, and I want to know why she didn't take this option.

    I think it's a very simple answer here - she didn't want the breast milk to be X-rayed, and had an option to not have it X-rayed. She doesn't need to explain to anyone why she wants to exercise that option. It was available to her, she should be allowed to take it.

    The fact that in exercising that option exposed her to "unwanted harassment" is exactly the problem. The argument that she could avoid the harassment by complying with the "thugs" means that they have already won - they have intimidated people into not exercising their options in this circumstance, because those options are inconvenient for the "thugs".

    Arguing that people should just go along with what the TSA wants and that we shouldn't inconvenience them, because otherwise we will be treated poorly, is saying that we should just give in to authority figures because it is easier for both us and them, and to heck with the idea that a person might find something they are doing objectionable. The better argument is that everyone - both passengers and TSA agents - should be aware of their various rights, options, and obligations while screening is being conducted. Anyone exercising their rights and options during the process should be accorded respect and not singled out for punishment.
    posted by never used baby shoes at 10:05 AM on November 26, 2010 [15 favorites]


    IMO, if you support the drug war, then you have no standing to complain about the TSA screening. You gave up your right to bitch about intrusive government searches and 4th amendment violations when you didn't stand up for the drug dealer down the street who got his house searched and his dog killed during a no-knock warrant, or when some random pot dealer went to jail after he had his car searched during a routine traffic stop.

    It's way too late to try and hold the line here. Most people in the US have dealt with this kind of stuff from authority for so long that the TSA screening barely even registers. My friends have actually gotten arrested and stripped search by police just for going to an 'illegal' party. And I mean actually stripped naked, not potted down.
    posted by empath at 10:14 AM on November 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


    I kind of think its hilarious that as soon as upper class white people have to deal with police harassment on a regular basis, the world is ending.

    I had a conversation with a friend about this the other day. I think that this is definitely contributing to the issue. The TSA rules are inconsistent (as are many governmental policies) and obviously badly put into practice at various airports. The screeners, who are low paid and generally reviled because of the TSA's cruddy rules must non-the-less enforce them. The travelers, pissed at the TSA, take their frustration out on the screeners, who they view as glorified security guards. The screeners, fed up with the attitude of travelers who hate them for just doing their job, close ranks and "defend" themselves by using their power to get revenge. This is class warfare in a nutshell and is allowing the TSA to continue to mis-manage the program and place the blame on the screeners for a few "bad apples." They had to know that it would play out this way, it's too perfect.
    posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:15 AM on November 26, 2010 [8 favorites]



    "Just for the record: I don't like this any more than anyone else. No more than I like colonoscopies or prostate checks. Someday there will surely be easier ways to get the job done, but for now, nobody has thought of one."

    Just for the record I'm as scared of modern America as I am of modern Islamic fundamentalism. I'm scared of different things in each case, and the impact of those things is clearly different.

    With regards to modern America: I'm scared of what looks like political authoritarianism being accepted by people like gjc, who are almost certainly completely decent individuals, but who seem to be mouthpiecing the acceptance of clear and obvious infringements of hard won rights.

    With regards to modern Islamic fundamentalism: I'm scared of being killled.

    It shouldn't need to be said but its much more likely that I will be impacted by American authoritarianism than being killed by the fundamentalists.

    There are alternatives that manage a much better balance of security and rights. I'm surprised that this has not been introduced to the thread yet (so if it has been soundly rubbished without my knowing please accept my apologies) but this article seems to suggest that Israel has found an effective way to run secure airports.

    I may find myself believing, gjc, that you like colonoscopies and prostrate checks much more than me, because it seems that you are nowhere near as outraged by this as I am.

    The checks don't seem to stack up as effective, and even if they were, then abuses of power should still be dealt with very aggressively. To do otherwise is to start on a road that will lead to similar levels of fundamental abuse as we believe exists within fundamental Islamic society.

    Sorry but I find your rhetoric to be very unpleasant in its desire to appease (and therefore allow) clear abuses of US citizens rights, by your own government, under the guise of security.

    You aren't a fascist country. but some of the things that are happening are starting to sound off in that direction. Appeasement is as offensive now as it was in the 2nd world war Vichy french government. Just because you are appeasing your own government doesn't make a blind bit of difference to me.
    posted by Boslowski at 10:17 AM on November 26, 2010 [12 favorites]


    gjc : If anyone has a better solution, I'm sure we would all be delighted to hear it.

    Trivial - A fully armed society. Including on airplanes*. Never again would anyone successfully take over any form of public transportation; No more mass school shootings or lone-gunman-in-a-clock-tower. And as a perk, violent crime rates in general would plummet.


    Fewer people will attempt to climb the fence because it is scary, and those who do are more likely to be caught.

    Fewer people will climb the fence because they can just tunnel under it... Or cut through it... Or take a job as one of the guards so they have legitimate access to the other side... Or just attack the shiny totally unprotected target across the road.

    Security theatre doesn't hurt us by virtue of its ineffectiveness; it hurts us by making us individually less vigilant.


    * No, it won't. Mythbusters disproved that one a good many years ago; try as they might, they couldn't get a handgun round to depressurize an airplane cabin.
    posted by pla at 10:22 AM on November 26, 2010


    The next one will not be up the ass, but surgically inserted in the abdomen.

    Failed Al Qaeda plot involved sewing bombs inside dogs.
    posted by ericb at 10:28 AM on November 26, 2010


    Trivial - A fully armed society.

    I can't say if a Glocks for Tots program might work in the US or not, but I suspect that that woudn't fly in the rest of the world.
    posted by bonehead at 10:30 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Fewer people will climb the fence because they can just tunnel under it...

    In related news: Sophisticated drug tunnel found in San Diego.
    posted by ericb at 10:33 AM on November 26, 2010


    Cross-link to another article about this

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/building-great-marriages/201011/where-have-all-my-civil-liberties-gone
    posted by subaruwrx at 10:36 AM on November 26, 2010


    Trivial - A fully armed society.

    For every problem, there is a solution which is easy to understand, simple to implement, and completely ass-fuckingly wrong.
    posted by unSane at 10:40 AM on November 26, 2010 [22 favorites]


    IMO, if you support the drug war, then you have no standing to complain about the TSA screening.

    I think it's important to be aware of your rights and to be vigilant in protecting them, and I do think the Drug War creates a lot of problems in that regard. However, just because someone just recently started caring about their rights does not make them incorrect. The fact is most people don't care about constitutional rights at all, and many that do didn't care until it affected them directly. I'm happy that this problem is getting the attention it has, because maybe it will result in enough awareness to bring about a change. I can't shame people for wanting to push back to protect their rights, even if some haven't been 100% consistent and pure of heart, because all we can do is deal with what's in front of us, and we need all the help we can get. If this raises awareness of rights in general among those who previously had no opinion, even better. There's a better chance that they'll care more about this issue in general in the future.
    posted by krinklyfig at 10:48 AM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    If someone knows the easy routes will be blocked, they give up or they try the more difficult routes. This makes them more likely to fail or be exposed. It's like barbed wire- it can be breached, but it is slower and harder to do. Fewer people will attempt to climb the fence because it is scary, and those who do are more likely to be caught.

    Wait, are we not talking about people who are committed to blowing themselves up and/or crashing planes into things here? I don't know if I can buy into a deterence argument where someone who has chosen a violent death is put off his plan by the threat of being caught or exposed. On September 11th, people hijacked planes using box cutters. I would say a plan like that presents a very high risk of failure to begin with, and a level of determination and commitment that is unlikely to be swayed by inconveniences/more thorough inspections at the airport security checkpoint. That people like the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber have made these attempts after Sept 11 despite increased security should provide ample evidence that it's not deterring suicidal maniacs form trying to kill people.
    posted by Hoopo at 10:48 AM on November 26, 2010


    I kind of think its hilarious that as soon as upper class white people have to deal with police harassment on a regular basis, the world is ending.

    If I had rolled my eyes any harder at this comment I would have torn my optic nerves.

    LIke, seriously, i've dealt with more invasive searches just going into nightclubs. And the bouncers are a lot less polite.

    You might consider frequenting a better class of establishment.
    posted by MikeMc at 10:51 AM on November 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


    I cant believe that a thread came up where I am agreeing with FFF and delmoi. See what the TSA has done?
    posted by subaruwrx at 10:59 AM on November 26, 2010


    The problem with a fully armed society is we already know a non trivial portion of people will simply not be able to kill when they are confronted with a clock tower sniper, or a freeway gunman , or a hijacker.

    I would suggest in addition to a fully armed society we also need a fully trained society. Here is a plan.
    • option to have children open to fully trained adults
    • training starts at age 4. Safety, gun handling, marksmanship classes.wilderness survival classes
    • at age 6 hand to hand training, MMA, bladed weapons, improvised weapons.
    • age 8 explosives and heavy weapons training.
    • at 10 the young warrior is sent into battle for the first time. The initiate is dropped behind enemy lines with a knife, a 9mm pistol, and a single clip of ammo. If the young warrior makes it back he or she is welcomed into society with all the rights and responsibilities of an adult. Every citizen is a terrorist killing machine. No more toner bombs. The plan will take only 500-700 years to fully implement.
    posted by Ad hominem at 11:01 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


    If I had rolled my eyes any harder at this comment I would have torn my optic nerves.

    Long story short: In 1995 I got stuck in Des Moines and had to take a Greyhound bus back to Boston. I sat with a kid the same age as me for most of the day until we reached Chicago at midnight. The bus was met by Chicago police who sniffed all of our bags with dogs. I walked into the bathroom and there was the seatmate kid with his arms against the wall, his pants around his ankles and a Chicago PD detective frisking him. I said hi, peed and got back on the bus. A few minutes later the kid gets on the bus. The cops found nothing, he had been strip searched for nothing. The difference between me and this other kid? He was black.

    There's a lot of truth in saying that these tactics have been used and ignored for a long time.
    posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:16 AM on November 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


    Why not have all planes come pre-loaded with a bomb? The odds of there being one bomb on a plane is tiny, but the odds of there being two bombs on any plane is absolutely infinitesimal.
    posted by Sticherbeast at 11:17 AM on November 26, 2010 [10 favorites]


    Here's what gets me: In NYC in Philly, the two cities that I know best, we've got cops doing searches and seizures of poor people of color for, well, walking while being people of color. It seems to me like on the unjust society scale, this rates, say, an eight out of ten.

    And the TSA searches and seizures are also problematic -- but not as problematic as the para. above. Because in the para. above, the goal is not to keep planes from exploding, but rather to -- what IS the goal of all the searches and seizures of people of color -- I can't articulate it.

    So when, yes, relatively affluent white people -- the kind of people who can go to law school and fly for convenience -- become all outraged -- it's a bit hard to take this as seriously as the problems related to search and seizures of people because their skin is a certain hue.
    posted by angrycat at 11:18 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


    Also, fire team training. We shouldn't expect kids to go to school without proper artilery support.
    posted by bonehead at 11:18 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    unSane : For every problem, there is a solution which is easy to understand, simple to implement, and completely ass-fuckingly wrong.

    Get over the irrational fear of a simple tool, and just look at the numbers.

    I honestly don't see how any reasonable person can look at such a strong inverse correlation (and yes, we all know that correlation does not mean causation) and not see as you (almost) point out, that "there is a solution which is easy to understand, simple to implement, and completely ass-fuckingly" effective.

    And don't get me wrong, I don't propose we literally make everyone carry handgun - Apply a minimum age, no convictions for violent crimes, perhaps allow some sort of "conscientious objector" status. But when 75% of the adults in any crowd carry, only the suicidally stupid even try causing trouble - And those who do won't get very far.


    Ad hominem : I would suggest in addition to a fully armed society we also need a fully trained society.

    Your joke at the end aside, I agree completely. You don't just hand someone a gun and say "have fun"; You make them learn how to safely use it (we could tie it in as a requirement to get a driver's license, for example).

    As for people not having the will to act to save their own butts, I don't have a problem with that. It only takes a few who do act to save the entire plane / class / crowd-on-the-public-green.
    posted by pla at 11:19 AM on November 26, 2010


    Get over the irrational fear of a simple tool

    It's not the simple tool I'm afraid of, it's the simple tools carrying them.
    posted by unSane at 11:24 AM on November 26, 2010 [15 favorites]


    and just look at the numbers.

    Okay.
    posted by unSane at 11:30 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


    Some of us don't appreciate being stepped on. What is the point of having choice when there is a right choice and a (secretly) wrong choice?

    That's true. But then you have to define what being stepped on means. A free society might need the "you can't tell me what to do" people, but that doesn't mean we have to like them.


    I don't understand what point you're trying to make here? You're in favour of freedoms, provided they're not exercised, as you might have to exert some sort of tolerance towards the people exercising them?

    This isn't an issue of "you can't tell me what to do", it's an issue of someone being told what they can do, doing their homework, then being punished for choosing from the options provided. It's absurd! This isn't some personal liberties pissing match; it's someone being punished for using the system as intended. I.e. being stepped on.

    And yes, I am sure authoritarians don't like people who express their rights very much.
    posted by Dark Messiah at 11:31 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


    But when 75% of the adults in any crowd carry, only the suicidally stupid even try causing trouble - And those who do won't get very far.

    You're proposing a society without rule of law. What counts as 'trouble'? Who gets to decide if that 'trouble' deserved being shot? Being killed? Being maimed? Firearms are serious business. To propose that crime would go away simply by virtue of having more guns around is fanciful in the extreme -- if it were true, jurisdictions with the most guns would be the safest places on earth. Yet clearly, they're not. Crime is far more complicated than the existence of a civillian deterrent.
    posted by modernnomad at 11:37 AM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


    Get over the irrational fear of a simple tool, and just look at the numbers.

    Gosh, those numbers aren't up for a variety of analysis and debate, either.
    posted by Astro Zombie at 11:38 AM on November 26, 2010


    pla's map is seriously bizarre. It does not illustrate a correlation between higher gun ownership and lower crime. It ranks states by having a higher or lower correlation between their own gun ownership rate and their violent crime rate, thereby leading to a place like New York, which has low gun ownership, having a Scary Orange color, whereas more violent states like Texas, Nevada, and New Mexico have Lighter Orange colors, due to their higher gun ownership. What's the point? What were we talking about again?

    I'm not even anti-gun. I have the opposite dog in this fight. That map is just not a very good way to present useful data.
    posted by Sticherbeast at 11:42 AM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


    1. Unwarranted searches of minorities by law enforcement are an outrage but unwarranted searches of white people are...hilarious?

    2. If being able to afford a $59.00 Southwest supersaver fare makes you upper middle class I can't wait to see my name on the 2011 Forbes 400 list!

    3. I guess point 1 doesn't really make sense seeing as TSA screeners aren't actually "law enforcement". They're security guards who probably work at the airport because the state test to work the DMV counter was too hard.

    In discussing the new TSA rules a coworker said "How many 9-11 types incidents have we had since the tougher security measures started at airports? None." My response? "How many 9-11 type incidents did we have before 9-11? None." Bread and circuses people, bread and circuses.
    posted by MikeMc at 11:44 AM on November 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


    Let's not let Pla derail yet another thread Please.
    posted by orville sash at 11:48 AM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


    only the suicidally stupid

    The 9/11 terrorists, the shoe bomber, and the underwear bomber were all perfectly willing to die, and some of them did. What makes you think that a terrorist who is already willing to die for his cause will be deterred from committing terrorism because he's afraid of being shot? And how long before some perfectly compliant non-terrorist guy wearing "Muslim garb" gets shot by a would-be hero because he made the mistake of reaching for a kleenex or going to the bathroom "too often"? Not to mention that a non-zero number of people who would be able to carry guns on planes would be terrorists themselves - new and improved, with legally carried weapons!
    posted by rtha at 11:48 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I'm starting to dislike the very notion of authority. It seems like it can't exist without being abused by power-tripping assholes. It is universally applied as a mechanism for revenge against those who challenge it.

    Authority and power also have hilarious inertia. Will the TSA ever get LESS heavy-handed and callous as an organization? Will TSA agents ever become calm, rational people who forego pride and personal interest in the name of duty? I would say the answer to both questions is no. Once you get something like the current TSA, it rarely goes away except by some radical action (like, say, the collapse of the soviet union). Will people who seek TSA jobs ever stop becoming petty controlling people as soon as they don that uniform? With such a large body of dehumanizing policy backing them up, and human nature being what it is, definitely not.

    I deeply fear for the future of travel to/from/within the united states.
    posted by tehloki at 12:02 PM on November 26, 2010


    How long before some idiot blows up the 100+ people waiting in the TSA line, before they ever get on the plane? This is like listening to two fleas argue -- they're both making excellent points but at the end of the day, they're both still living on a dog's ass.
    posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:07 PM on November 26, 2010 [7 favorites]


    But people throwing around incredibly loaded terms like "police state" and "fascism" is ridiculous given that the actions shown in the video are clearly not part of TSA official regulations, an argument that's made clear in the post itself. Let's be real here.

    While I lived under Communism in Yugoslavia, things happened that made classification of my country as a "police state" pretty reasonable. I lived in a police state, in essence, and few people would have privately disagreed.

    Many of 'police state' activities I knew from Yugoslvia did not happen in America, back when I moved here, circa 1995. But now, nearly all of those things do happen in America. This TSA nonsense, a legislator 'arresting' a reporter for asking inconvenient questions, endless detention of political prisoners without trials or most basic rights, and so on. These sorts of events are increasingly brazen and regular, too, I am sad to say. Many are numb to them.

    During my life under a police state, nothing bad ever happened to me, personally. Yet, I still had an awareness of the real state of things. I know that many people can't acknowledge this about the USA. They're used to living in a land they have always considered free - if not the most free country in the world, and they just can't accept how things are fundamentally changing.

    Vigilante persecution for lawful possession of breast milk. Think about it. And there are actually people here who feel comfortable not condemning it, or not even laughing about the absurdity of it all. It's astonishing how quickly people turn into sheep.
    posted by Dee Xtrovert at 12:08 PM on November 26, 2010 [143 favorites]


    In discussing the new TSA rules a coworker said "How many 9-11 types incidents have we had since the tougher security measures started at airports? None." My response? "How many 9-11 type incidents did we have before 9-11? None." Bread and circuses people, bread and circuses.

    Well, actual security probably has meant that the CIA has been busting its ass - and I think the stopping of the UPS-based attacks a few months ago were good evidence of how it actually works when it works. That's because, for various reasons, the powers that be are not interested in a foreign policy that would actually not encite further terrorism; it's not profitable, and it's not aligned with the larger geo-strategic concerns that the US has, to actually solve the problems of Israel and the various dictatorships in the Middle East that motivate most people who become terrorists in the first place. Given that choice, the US has to focus on intelligence to fight terrorism, which is a difficult and necessarily thankless job. It also frequently involves throwing away any connection to decency, human rights, or ostensible democratic values. We should be honest about this stuff, security is a dirty business.

    The problem is, security theater has been allowed to become the public face of actual airline security. Considering that you can conceivably hijack a plane by holding a pencil to the neck of a flight attendant, restricting what materials get on is a fool's errand. You're looking for a needle in a very large haystack, but the reality is that the error rate of the methods beyond magnetometers and baggage checks are probably higher than the actual incidence of finding anything, meaning that they're virtually worthless. It should also be noted that these are extremely expensive needle-finding devices - yet stopping the expense would be touching a political third rail, because OMG TERRORISM.

    I think you have to look at the security state as having become a thing-for-itself by this point. It's not rational to keep amping up airport security; even if terrorists blew up a plane on average once per year, in addition to the existing rate of plane crashes, flying would still be radically safer than driving. But the government, and the bureaucracy, do not relinquish power that has been given to it. I honestly think it has very little to do with real security concerns at this point, and more to do with keeping a perpetually docile population.
    posted by graymouser at 12:10 PM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


    Will the TSA ever get LESS heavy-handed and callous as an organization?

    Bureaucracies run amok when they're overfunded, flavour of the week. Bureaucracies run well when they're under funding constraints and forced to be creative and effective with their tax dollar spending.

    My the solution for dealing with the TSA would be to forget about them. Cut off their money supply. Lobby congress critters to put tax dollars into robot unicorn metal space programs or super soldier serum X projects or heavy weapon training for 6-year olds or possibly help fund that health care bill, you guys just passed (wacky ideas, I know). Let them shrink back to one of those boring but necessary programs that struggles by and has to fight for budgets each year, like the Coast Guard. When those fancy machine break in a couple of years, they don't get replaced and cuts reduce staffing so that searches aren't possible anymore. Problem solved.
    posted by bonehead at 12:17 PM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


    Dee Xtrovert - boiling frogs (as in the anecdote, not an accusation of animal cruelty)
    posted by Boslowski at 12:18 PM on November 26, 2010


    "unintentional deaths"

    Why do you think that is the relevant column?
    posted by unSane at 12:36 PM on November 26, 2010


    pla: Would it cost 56 billion less per year

    Yes.

    and have massively better results? Absolutely

    I think you mean "arguably." Clearly your opinion is not one against which people cannot argue (ergo, it is not absolute.)
    posted by DarlingBri at 12:44 PM on November 26, 2010


    [comment removed - stop with the fuck off stuff, you know where metatalk is.]
    posted by jessamyn at 12:46 PM on November 26, 2010


    So when, yes, relatively affluent white people -- the kind of people who can go to law school and fly for convenience -- become all outraged -- it's a bit hard to take this as seriously as the problems related to search and seizures of people because their skin is a certain hue.

    I am certainly not disagreeing with you about the total grossness of people being stopped and searched because of their skin color, but I don't think you need to take up one banner and not the other. The loss of personal rights and abuse of authority by government bodies is bad whether you're talking about the war on drugs or the war on terror. Instead of one abuse being less bad, let's just put it all in the "crap" pile.

    In fact, I think the smart thing to do in general is to try and parlay this TSA/rights issue into better awareness about other similar problems, rather than try and exclude newly interested white upper and middle class folks.
    posted by jess at 12:58 PM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


    Because I am wondering why someone would allow herself to be treated so inhumanely by a bunch of thugs with badges

    Unless you are a Congressperson or others high up in the writing of laws or can afford your own private airplane - you will be subject to "a bunch of thugs with badges".

    And perhaps you do not have the same training as she (should have had anyway) has.


    The individual Rights guaranteed by our Constitution can be compromised or ignored by our government. For example, in United States v. Johnson, 76 F. Supp. 538, 539 (D. Pa. 1947), Federal District Court Judge James Alger Fee ruled that,

    "The privilege against self-incrimination is neither accorded to the passive resistant, nor to the person who is ignorant of his rights, nor to one indifferent thereto. It is a FIGHTING clause. It's benefits can be retained only by sustained COMBAT. It cannot be claimed by attorney or solicitor. It is valid only when insisted upon by a BELLIGERENT claimant in person." McAlister vs. Henkel, 201 U.S. 90, 26 S.Ct. 385, 50 L. Ed. 671; Commonwealth vs. Shaw, 4 Cush. 594, 50 Am.Dec. 813; Orum vs. State, 38 Ohio App. 171, 175 N.E. 876. The one who is persuaded by honeyed words or moral suasion to testify or produce documents rather than make a last ditch stand, simply loses the protection. . . . He must refuse to answer or produce, and test the matter in contempt proceedings, or by habeas corpus."

    Any privilege goes to the BELLIGERENT claimant of said rights. Silence is consent.

    Not only should the people be mad as hell, but anyone who gets arrested and charged over the actions of thugs should not only demand a jury trial but should also remind the jury of their rights - one of them being jury nullification. Nullify these laws that invade the privacy and enable the thug class.

    http://www.fija.org/


    (And did you know that in some States once you become aware of a Felony by a public servant you are required to report 'em to the Grand Jury? Imagine if the thug class started getting Grand Jury requests from people who saw the YouTubes of the thuggery? Or if you were standing in line and saw it in person? Perhaps the next protest will be sending Jimmy John Ham Sandwiches to the TSA staffers.....)
    posted by rough ashlar at 1:06 PM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


    I'm starting to dislike the very notion of authority. It seems like it can't exist without being abused by power-tripping assholes. It is universally applied as a mechanism for revenge against those who challenge it.

    1) Power sure does seem to attract the sociopaths. (A gal named mary wrote a book - The Sociopath next door in case you want to look for it)
    2) Public officials have laws that constrain them. Alas, its up to us to know the laws and then submit these violations to Grand Juries. Some States like California allow citizens to approach Grand Juries directly. Others don't. Some high level judges back in the late 1940's getting sent up the river resulted in gatekeepers being put in in many States. (Kinda like how you suddenly had to be directly affected by an unconstitutional law - "have standing" back in the 1920's)
    posted by rough ashlar at 1:13 PM on November 26, 2010


    jessamyn : comment removed - stop with the fuck off stuff, you know where metatalk is.

    My apologies, and done.

    If I may repost the rest of my comment?


    unSane : Okay.

    Erm, not sure what you hoped to prove my that - The relevant column, "unintentional deaths", pretty much supports my side of the argument. Otherwise, saying "more firearms mean more firearm-related deaths" amount to a near-identity, unless you seriously believe that guns make their owners use them. Or put another way, table-saw incidents increase with the number of table-saws in use.


    Sticherbeast : pla's map is seriously bizarre. It does not illustrate a correlation between higher gun ownership and lower crime.

    Click on the "table" tab to see the underlying numbers. However...


    leading to a place like New York, which has low gun ownership, having a Scary Orange color, whereas more violent states like Texas, Nevada, and New Mexico have Lighter Orange colors

    Okay, I can see in hindsight why you might fairly call that misleading. And my first link? The FBI's own numbers saying crime goes down when guns go up?



    I think we've strayed a bit from the topic. I didn't intend to get sucked into a debate the merits of gun control; Rather, I offered a simple way to attain vastly more effective security than the bad joke the TSA has foisted on us. Does that count as the best way? Probably not. Would it cost 56 billion less per year and have massively better results? Absolutely.
    posted by pla at 1:13 PM on November 26, 2010


    I think we've strayed a bit from the topic.

    A bit?
    posted by Astro Zombie at 1:15 PM on November 26, 2010


    How long before some idiot blows up the 100+ people waiting in the TSA line

    People who talk like that get FBI tracking devices on their car.

    backstory
    posted by rough ashlar at 1:16 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Is it part of the job description that TSA agents must look like Oompa Loompas?
    posted by Joe Chip


    When in doubt, poke fun at the overweight. It's always a "safe" prejudice. Suppose the TSA agent in question had been African-American, with hair sticking straight up in every direction. Would you feel similarly comfortable asking "Is it part of the job description that TSA agents must look like Buckwheat?"

    In any case, from the evidence given it seems like this woman was detained primarily because she "dared" to file a complaint (even though she was justified for doing so). Some TSA agents probably got a chewing-out from "up above" or maybe even a negative note in their personnel files. Whatever, when they spotted the "troublemaker" coming through their gate again they were going to get their pound of flesh. It's just like telling the local postmaster that you've seen your letter carrier sitting inside a neighborhood watering hole with other letter carriers for several hours in the middle of the day. Word will leak out as to who squealed, and suddenly your mail will be delayed regularly or "lost" or however else you can be inconvenienced while treading the very fine line of the outer edge of the rules.
    posted by Oriole Adams at 1:21 PM on November 26, 2010


    When in doubt, poke fun at the overweight. It's always a "safe" prejudice.

    Yes, because the TSA's comments about 'not wanting to pre-flight grope the overweight' show this to be true.
    posted by rough ashlar at 1:23 PM on November 26, 2010


    I love that suggestion that everyone should carry guns in planes. It's so truly surrealistic to even contemplate!

    That an adult would really believe that the TSA or any subsequent agency would allow firearms on planes! Imagine what the checkpoints would be like!

    Or imagine what it'd be like when every air-rage story involved guns.

    I checked out the Mythbusters story. In fact, they only talked about explosive decompression - and only tried it with a stationary airplane on the ground. There are at least two huge physical differences between that and a real, flying plane - the fact that the rushing air tends to peel open the hull, and the fact that Bernoulli's Principle dramatically increases the pressure differential between the inside and the outside.

    And in fact they were able to decompress a plane immediately. Imagine two people with guns - one shoots out a window and the other one starts shooting people in the head as they are trying to put their masks on.

    I could go on and on but the idea of lots of aggressive, gun-toting Americans trapped in a pressurized cabin a few miles in the air is so awful it's very funny.

    If you really believe this madness, stop and think about yourself for a moment. Your perception is so warped that you see guns as solutions where even a child would see the deadly drawbacks. What does this say about you?
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:41 PM on November 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


    In general I think the TSA outrage is a good thing because it means we are finally getting over our 9/11-induced shock. For years now there has been no clear limit to how far we would go to "protect" ourselves from another terrorist attack. If an attack happened and there were measures politicians had not taken to stop it, the politicians would be held responsible.

    Hopefully (hopefully) this hubbub will engender a halfway rational debate on how we can balance safety, civil liberties, and convenience. With new technology making totalitarian policies increasingly possible, this needs to be at the top of our public consciousness.
    posted by ropeladder at 1:44 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I'm waiting for the person who says "You know what? Fuck this bullshit" and strips off in the box. And is then arrested for indecent public exposure. Because I think that's what it's going to take to highlight how utterly ridiculous the options and the regulations limiting them are. Genital pat down from a total stranger: yes. Nudity: outrage!

    I saw this very thing only a day or two ago, but google is failing me now: a video blogger and sex trade worker who was flying to Sri Lanka and decided to put this to the test, on the basis that while a lot of people had reservations about being seen nude, she had none. She arrived at the airport and before going through the security screening stripped down to a see-through camisole and panties, while she left her iPhone camera recording. The very first thing that happens is that the TSA screeners tell her to put her jacket back on.


    I located the link, brought to us by tehloki in the last TSA thread.
    posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:45 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    > the TSA outrage

    I have some very bad news for you - it is (so far) minor.

    Sure, if you obsessively wander through the net like most people here you'll see the most horrible things - but everyone else looks at their newspaper that says, "Most Americans support TSA measures," and "Planned protest against security searches has little effect."

    Mr. Obama supports it - Mr. Obama seems to have an endless love for the military and the security state - and when the Republicans get back in in 2012, they'll support it too.

    The libertarians on the left have been permanently marginalized, as well as the entire progressive movement. The fact that the progressive left has been almost right on everything since 2001 and the right completely wrong is irrelevant to the matter. And the libertarians on the right are arguing we should bring guns on planes and have marginalized themselves on this issue.

    This is permanent. Get used to it.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:03 PM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


    This is permanent. Get used to it.

    In what way is that constructive advice? What benefit do you imagine it confers on people of a supposedly democratic society to advise them to "get used to" insolent encroachment of this kind?
    posted by George_Spiggott at 2:36 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    waitwaitwait--we're supposed to be offering constructive advice here?

    FWIW that's the type of statement that motivates me, as well as Dee Xtrovert's upthread about the US becoming a police state and people becoming sheep. I've already spoken to a few people today about this over my lunch break.
    posted by Hoopo at 2:44 PM on November 26, 2010


    > What benefit do you imagine it confers on people of a supposedly democratic society to advise them to "get used to" insolent encroachment of this kind?

    None whatsoever.

    The Republicans and Democrats present a united front on these matters and it has been patiently explained to me many times here that even discussing a possible third party is stupid, and worse, might make the Republicans win. I've basically given up any idea that we as individuals can influence government in these matters to the slightest degree.

    I see the US system all coming crashing down within a decade or two because of this and other unfixable flaws.

    My "constructive" advice is that people should stay out of the way of the juggernaut. If you can move somewhere sane, do so.
    posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:45 PM on November 26, 2010


    Your joke at the end aside, I agree completely. You don't just hand someone a gun and say "have fun"; You make them learn how to safely use it (we could tie it in as a requirement to get a driver's license, for example).
    This is kind of a derail, but this idea 'everyone carries a gun' stuff is just insane. Right now the standard for a concealed carry license are pretty stringent, I would imagine. But if everyone needed to carry a gun, what would happen when people drink? Or use drugs? Or just have a momentary rage?

    I guarantee that arming everyone would result in a lot of corpses, even if economic crime dropped, you would have a lot of random homicide.
    But when 75% of the adults in any crowd carry, only the suicidally stupid even try causing trouble - And those who do won't get very far.
    Right, but 'trouble' could mean anything that pisses off anyone else, not just actual crimes.
    Dee Xtrovert - boiling frogs (as in the anecdote, not an accusation of animal cruelty)
    Slowly increasing the temperature on frogs causes them to jump out. Throwing them in boiling water actually causes them to die instantly.
    posted by delmoi at 2:50 PM on November 26, 2010


    Fair enough, l_y, but I think the chemistry is different on this one. Both the far right and a huge swath of progressives despise this stuff -- I work with a few teabaggers, what used to be called dittoheads, though nowadays they're parrotting Glenn Beck. We have at least as many progressives and we have some lively discussions (which manage to remain friendly and good-humored) in the break room. The thing about this issue is that *everybody* feels the same way about it, and the righties and the lefties say things that could have come right out of the other's mouths. And that, I think is genuinely new, and has real potential.

    There are clear indications that bad publicity and bad press has already caused the dhs to moderate some of their policies. Perhaps it's a forlorn hope that we can undo very much of what has already begun, but I do believe it's reasonable to expect that pushing back can mean the difference between it expanding further into other areas and arresting it where it is.
    posted by George_Spiggott at 2:50 PM on November 26, 2010


    How about everybody wears a butt-plug when flying. Show up at the airport with it already in, that way you're ready for the TSA. That's sure to make this whole thing much more....well much more anyway!
    posted by QueerAngel28 at 2:51 PM on November 26, 2010


    Here's a good way to think of the relative risk.

    Imagine that we lost one plane per year due to terrorists. Assume there are 200 people on the average plane. With 800 million passengers per year in the U.S. that works out to a 1 out of 4 million risk that you would be killed in a terrorist attack each time you flew.

    To put that into perspective, your odds of winning the lottery are something like 1 in 50 million or so (depending on the game)

    That means if you bought 13 lottery tickets at the airport before your flight, you'd be more likely to win the lottery then be killed in a turrist bombing.
    posted by delmoi at 2:54 PM on November 26, 2010


    Right now the standard for a concealed carry license are pretty stringent, I would imagine.

    Uh, no. Or at least, not in the multitude of "shall issue" states. If you meet the very minimal standards (usually it's over 21, citizen, no criminal convictions, not adjudicated mentally ill or drug addicted, etc, and sometimes there's a very minimal training requirement, as well), your local sheriff will issue you a permit. It's seriously that simple: if you can pass a basic background check and can write a check for $50 or so (and, if your state requires, can attend a very basic training course), you are then legal to carry a concealed weapon. Other states make it trickier, but none to the point of requiring rigorous and ongoing training.

    In other words, getting on an airplane subjects you to far greater scrutiny than does getting a concealed carry permit. If that doesn't define asinine, I don't know what does.
    posted by Forktine at 3:14 PM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Does ANYBODY have a link or a physical copy of TSA procedure...and not just the 'regulations' that are up for show on the tsa 311 site?

    Please memail me if you are rather reluctant to post here.

    What are they trained to do, why do they act this way? They are just normal people...there's something horrible in their procedural instructions, or the culture of the TSA in why they're acting like this.

    Seriously, I would like a copy of this, and if ANYBODY can help, I'll be indebted. $eriou$ly.
    posted by hal_c_on at 3:21 PM on November 26, 2010


    hal_c_on : Does ANYBODY have a link or a physical copy of TSA procedure...and not just the 'regulations' that are up for show on the tsa 311 site?

    Heh... Welcome to my one and only MeFi FP so far, How to feign security in 93 easy pages

    I just checked, and the Cryptome link still works (and if it ever goes down, anyone should feel free to MeMail me if they want a copy). Probably a bit outdated by now, but bureaucracies tend to favor window dressing over actual change, so most of it should still apply.
    posted by pla at 3:41 PM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Can someone who has flown in the last two weeks please tell me whether EVERYONE is going through the machines or getting a patdown, or is it only those who the metal detectors or something else has flagged? Talking heads on TV are saying different things.
    posted by etaoin at 3:56 PM on November 26, 2010


    I can't figure out how to cut and paste on my netbook, but Jess is spot on w/r/t not taking up one banner (TSA v. walking while black) to the exclusion of the other. Thank you, Jess, for articulating things better than I did.

    I just get annoyed with the OMG FASCIST STATE IS HERE when simtilar evil bullshit has been happening to non-white, lower income folks in the U.S. for a long, long time. I guess my position is, yeah, what happened to the woman who is the subject is some bad-ass shit, but, guess what, some folks can't walk down the street w/o it happening, so let's not forget that.

    I don't want to minimize the bs that went down with the breast milk woman.
    posted by angrycat at 4:05 PM on November 26, 2010


    Flew out of Detroit to Seattle and back in past week. DTW had some stations w/backscatter and some w/out. I had checked bags and therefore went through upstairs security for Delta - no pornoscan to opt out of. In Seattle the backscatter scanners weren't running although they had them. I was prepared to opt out - I don't trust the calibration or the maintenance on them although they're probably as safe as they're going to be when this new. The New York Times ran an article last February about dangerous radiation overdoses in a number of medical facilities. Personally I'm less inclined to assume the TSA will be meticulous about machine calibration than a medical facility.
    posted by leslies at 4:09 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    etaoin : Can someone who has flown in the last two weeks please tell me whether EVERYONE is going through the machines or getting a patdown, or is it only those who the metal detectors or something else has flagged? Talking heads on TV are saying different things.

    A month ago, from Tampa, they had two lines two wide funneling into a common bottleneck with one metal detector arch and one scanner. The scanner took longer than the arch, so they basically just kept it running nonstop by scanning every third or fourth person, and ran everyone else through the arch.

    Which, of course, only highlights the problem with having them in the first place... The security of our air travel infrastructure absolutely positively depends on using these scanners... Except when it doesn't.
    posted by pla at 4:15 PM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    How long before some idiot blows up the 100+ people waiting in the TSA line ... People who talk like that get FBI tracking devices on their car. ... backstory

    MeFi FPP on the topic: Oil Change & GPS Tracker Removal, Only $19.99!
    posted by ericb at 4:22 PM on November 26, 2010


    I am only going to say that I think there's a big difference between some knuckleheads overstepping their bounds and a widespread government policy of extensive searching and breaching of our constitutional rights.

    I actually think you have it backwards - it's the former that pervades the most dangerous and abusive kind of police state, because even though the later explicitly has rights-abuse enshrined in law, there is still a policy being followed. In the former, when knuckleheads routinely overstep their bounds because they no there is no reason for them not to - because they are not genuine accountable - then there is no limit to the abuse, because law itself has broken down. So if you're joe public and thus not part of their gang, they can do anything to you.

    When I think about the most terrible police states in history and today, the problem of explicit government policy of abuse seems a much smaller part of the issue than the problem of knuckleheads being able to routinely overstep their bounds, unchecked, and thus effectively no-longer having any bounds that could be overstepped.

    I think fears of any government repeal of civil rights is almost a red herring compared to the shocking dangers in putting people above the law in practice rather than doing it openly and explicitly in law.

    If every apple becomes a bad apple, who you gonna turn to?
    posted by -harlequin- at 4:30 PM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


    Slowly increasing the temperature on frogs causes them to jump out. Throwing them in boiling water actually causes them to die instantly.

    Exactly.

    Snopes.com: "Slowed Boiled Frog" Claim -- False.
    posted by ericb at 4:32 PM on November 26, 2010


    The thing about this issue is that *everybody* feels the same way about it, and the righties and the lefties say things that could have come right out of the other's mouths. And that, I think is genuinely new, and has real potential.

    You mean that this is the new neo-con Great Lie? Leo Strauss' influential belief that that America will grow weak and fall unless perpetually united by a great common enemy, and that therefore there must always be an overarching enemy of the American people, even if a false one has to be invented or created by the elites?

    The TSA was designed and built to be our Two-Minute Hate?


    Awesome :)
    posted by -harlequin- at 4:42 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    1 out of 4 million risk that you would be killed in a terrorist attack each time you flew.

    Lifetime Odds of Dying:
    Heart Disease 1-in-5
    Cancer 1-in-7
    Stroke 1-in-23
    Accidental Injury 1-in-36
    Motor Vehicle Accident 1-in-100
    Intentional Self-harm (suicide) 1-in-121
    Falling Down 1-in-246
    Assault by Firearm 1-in-325
    Fire or Smoke 1-in-1,116
    Natural Forces (heat, cold, storms, quakes, etc.) 1-in-3,357
    Electrocution 1-in-5,000
    Drowning 1-in-8,942
    Air Travel Accident 1-in-20,000
    Flood 1-in-30,000
    Legal Execution 1-in-58,618
    Lightning Strike 1-in-83,930
    Snake, Bee or other Venomous Bite or Sting 1-in-100,000
    Earthquake 1-in-131,890
    Dog Attack 1-in-147,717
    Asteroid Impact 1-in-200,000
    Tsunami 1-in-500,000
    Fireworks Discharge 1-in-615,488
    _______________________

    Odds of Dying in Terrorist Attack on Airline: 1-in-25 million; Struck by Lightning: 1-in-500,000.

    Nate Silver | FiveThirtyEight.com:
    "Most of us are horrible assessors of risk. Travelers at American airports are taking extensive steps due to fears of terrorism. But in the decade of the 2000s, only about one passenger for every 25 million was killed in a terrorist attack aboard an American commercial airliner (all of the fatalities were on 9/11). By contrast, a person has about a one in 500,000 chance each year of being struck by lightning.

    ... Relative to the number of commercial departures world-wide, passenger deaths resulting from what I term "violent passenger incidents"—bombings, hijackings, and other sabotage—were at least five times less common in the 2000s than in any decade from the 1940s through the 1980s.

    ... Overall, academic and governmental databases report, terrorist attacks killed a total of about 5,300 people in the most highly developed nations since the end of the Cold War in 1991, a rate of about 300 per year. The chance of a Westerner being killed by a terrorist is exceedingly low: about a one in three million each year, or the same chance an American will be killed by a tornado. (The Department of Homeland Security's budget is 50 times larger than that of the weather service)."
    posted by ericb at 4:50 PM on November 26, 2010 [9 favorites]


    How long before some idiot blows up the 100+ people waiting in the TSA line ...

    Many years ago when I was stationed in a place that was a big target for terrorists, one of the biggest rules that was constantly drilled into us was: "Avoid traffic jams, long lines and large groups of people."

    It's been amazing to me that since 9/11 the U.S. has, in almost every instance, done the exact opposite of what is recommended by anti-terrorism scholars and professionals.

    What's wrong with x-raying breast milk?

    Perhaps nothing. The problem with this is that it's an abhorrence that anyone should or could stand in the way of the mother of a newborn who wants to provide what SHE thinks is the best for her child. That's an insult to every human being and their mothers.
    posted by snsranch at 4:59 PM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


    Throwing them in boiling water actually causes them to die instantly.

    Snopes.com: "Slowed Boiled Frog" Claim -- False.

    I don't think the value of the slow boiled frog story depends on its veracity, guys.
    posted by Hoopo at 5:31 PM on November 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


    Everyone is calling this "security theater," but it actually seems pretty thorough and effective to me. This doesn't seem to be a stupid reactive thing, like having to take off your shoes just because of the shoe bomber. Any evidence to the contrary?
    posted by yarly at 5:41 PM on November 26, 2010


    The photos are routinely archived

    I don't think this is true. Do you have any credible link to back it up? I've seen the photos from the Florida courthouse scanner, but that machine wasn't operated by the TSA.
    posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 5:45 PM on November 26, 2010


    Looks like I failed
    To do the math
    I opted out
    Got gropes of wrath

    Burma-Shave®
    posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:52 PM on November 26, 2010 [17 favorites]


    "How about everybody wears a butt-plug when flying."

    The kind with a USB port to hook in to the airplane's security system. Would the line-ups for the toilets be shorter or longer? Will we be allowed to use the toilet at all?
    posted by sneebler at 5:53 PM on November 26, 2010


    Can someone who has flown in the last two weeks please tell me whether EVERYONE is going through the machines or getting a patdown, or is it only those who the metal detectors or something else has flagged? Talking heads on TV are saying different things.

    At terminal D for standard service (not biz or first class) at MIA I did not see one in the last two weeks.

    None of my party failed the basic metal detector or were randomly selected for alternative or enhanced screening.
    posted by tilde at 6:00 PM on November 26, 2010


    Seems to me the biggest security threat on planes is the carry on luggage. Yeah they send it through the xray machine but still, you could have oodles of stuff in there thats bad news. It would be unpopular but I would think the most effective thing you could do is to say no more carry on luggage. Horribly inconvenient, but hardly an infringement of your rights.
    posted by ian1977 at 6:09 PM on November 26, 2010


    @yarly:

    It's a direct reactive response to the underwear bomber.
    posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:16 PM on November 26, 2010


    Can someone who has flown in the last two weeks please tell me whether EVERYONE is going through the machines or getting a patdown, or is it only those who the metal detectors or something else has flagged? Talking heads on TV are saying different things.

    I went through Logan on Wednesday (early in the morning, flying on Delta) and they were only using the scanners for a very small proportion of passengers - everyone else is just going through the metal detectors. They have the backscatter machines in there, but next to nobody is going through them. After all the build-up and preparation for various possibilities in my head about it, it was pretty boring.
    posted by naoko at 6:19 PM on November 26, 2010


    I could go on and on but the idea of lots of aggressive, gun-toting Americans trapped in a pressurized cabin a few miles in the air is so awful it's very funny.

    This is exactly why I'm so very much on pla's side. For the lulz.

    My chicken is rubbery. BLAMMO BLAMMO!

    Line to the bathroom too long. BLAMMO BLAMMO!

    Crying kid two rows back. BLAMMO BLAMMO!

    Dork in front of me lowered his seat back into my book. BLAMMO BLAMMO!

    Knowing that all present would immediately join in the ensuing shootout would be just that much funnier. Bring on universal carry! On planes, where it would actually be of some use? Oh, yes indeedy!
    posted by telstar at 6:31 PM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    For what it's worth, the TSA budget's been about $6, 7 billlion a year. So we're looking at about (rounded) $60 billion for the last 9 years.

    An Airbus A380 costs about $330 million. You could buy 180 Airbus A380s and have $600 million left over. A million dollar travel life insurance policy would cost $16.50, so for $600 million you could buy about 36.4 million policies.

    Security theater comes with a high price tag.
    posted by JB71 at 6:32 PM on November 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


    I also don't understand the people who would rather be fondled than go through the pornoscanner. Did I miss something? You'd rather have someone feel you up in a demeaning way than have someone see a grayed-out version of you naked?

    When I go to the [security] theater, I want to be entertained, not be the entertainment.
    posted by Deathalicious at 6:34 PM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


    Can someone who has flown in the last two weeks please tell me whether EVERYONE is going through the machines or getting a patdown, or is it only those who the metal detectors or something else has flagged?

    My partner and I flew out of DCA Tuesday morning, and went through the normal treatment - no backscatter, no enhanced pat-down. It looked like the backscatter machines were going in and out of service periodically. That said, DCA always seemed to have comparatively lax security compared to other US airports.

    I think it's a bit humorous that foreign Mefites are making fun of our procedures, though - my experience at foreign airports has almost always been more ... intrusive. My partner and I got a good groping a few weeks back flying out of Brussels - fortunately, the security guy was hunky and kind of cute, so we both got a bit of "Brussels sprout" action IYKWIM. Last week, flying through Qatar back to the US, I thought at the end of that frisking ceremony I got that the frisker and I were now man and wife. He touched me in places I didn't even know I had. Plus, they took EVERY SINGLE PIECE of stuff out of my messenger-bag carry on - including power cables, etc.

    But as many have said here, this really is all security theater. It doesn't provide actual security. Smarter people than me have made this clear:
    Only two things have made flying safer [since 9/11]: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers.
    It simply isn't possible to adequately secure all "soft targets." We have to rely on active human intelligence, and learn how to prioritize risk.
    posted by me & my monkey at 7:17 PM on November 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


    "Brussels sprout"
    :{
    ^Poirot script-well said that.
    posted by clavdivs at 7:30 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I'd really like to see the undoubtedly thorough (not) background checks that allow these people to suddenly become, eh; maybe needing some black and red armbands for more effect.
    posted by buzzman at 7:45 PM on November 26, 2010


    I also don't understand the people who would rather be fondled than go through the pornoscanner. Did I miss something? You'd rather have someone feel you up in a demeaning way than have someone see a grayed-out version of you naked?

    I was one of the first to opt-out of the PornoScanner.

    There are several reasons I opted-out. First, as empath mentioned, the pat-downs they're giving aren't really that intrusive. I've gotten more intrusive searches myself at clubs and raves. In fact, the places they searched are some of the places bouncers will focus on. Right behind the belt, near the groin, etc. It's where some people would hide drugs. Funnily enough, that's about the only thing the TSA if finding too. I don't think it's just a coincidence that this policy has led to more drug arrests. The war on drugs was just a preview.

    Second, the pornoscanner is an electronic device that captures and records biometric information. Information that can be used to track and identify you with the proper software. I've worked with facial recognition software and studied machine learning agorithms. The current state of consumer software available to the public may be poor, but things will only improve. I don't want them recording yet another piece of information about me that can be abused.

    This isn't a protest against Obama or Bush or whoever else is currently in power. It's a preventative protest against the next Nixon or whoever. Power will eventually be abused. The less information they have the better.

    Finally, I'm refusing to use the pornoscanner simply because it's a violation of my fourth amendment rights as a citizen of the United States. As a reminder for those who may have forgotten:
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
    It's my right to be secure in my persons. While the pat-down also violates this, it's my only option if I wish to fly. At least I've taken an action.
    posted by formless at 8:25 PM on November 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


    You've, ah, taken an action by randomly choosing between two intrusive violations of your fourth amendment rights? At least it's an ethos, I guess.
    posted by Justinian at 9:14 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    You've, ah, taken an action by randomly choosing between two intrusive violations of your fourth amendment rights? At least it's an ethos, I guess.

    Also, donated to the EFF, ACLU and wrote to my reps.

    If you've got some more suggestions for how to fix this, I'd love to hear them.
    posted by formless at 9:22 PM on November 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


    The funny thing about rave searches is that they were just for show, too. And I'm talking about searches where you have to take off your shoes and they searche inside bras and underwear waistbands. Teenagers will put up with any kind of bullshit. And yet I could find drugs within 10 minutes of walking into the club, and snuck them in myself. Stick something in your socks, or under your balls and nobody will check. Or even better, be friends with a bouncer or someone else that works there.

    In any case, I bet the next time something happens, it'll be because someone on the inside circumvented the searches entirely, maybe a TSA employee.
    posted by empath at 9:23 PM on November 26, 2010


    Also, donated to the EFF, ACLU and wrote to my reps.

    Straight donation or "in honor" of Officer xyz badge #123456 of the TSA?

    Too much pie. Turns my jerkface filter right off there. There are some people out there really just trying to do their jobs within a system that may have it's head up it's ass (and the pornoscanner actually would show that!).

    And there are those who are not but arrrrrghgggghhh!
    posted by tilde at 10:10 PM on November 26, 2010


    Aren't the TSA grunts basically minimum-wage goons hired by private contractors? Of course the right way to subvert the system is to become one. I bet they're hiring right now, too.
    posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:53 PM on November 26, 2010


    It's a preventative protest against the next Nixon or whoever. Power will eventually be abused.

    Nixon, that great symbol of power run amok of my childhood, was a babe in the woods compared to Cheney, et al. He actually tried to get a universal health care program in place, and opened trade with China. Who knew what a statesman he would eventually seem in retrospect?
    posted by jokeefe at 11:52 PM on November 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


    This is not liberal whining about fringe issues; this is about rights explicitly extended to every citizen by the Fourth Amendment:

    Yeah, and yet people don't see to care so much when rights extended by the First Amendment get trampled on.

    Correct. I've been told (by a Marine) that extra C4 has been used as cooking fuel because it burns stably without exploding. You don't want to put the fire out by stomping on it, though.

    I do not doubt this, and wouldn't care to test it anyway. But judging from the former Marines I personally know, they are not any less likely to believe B.S. than the average person. One in particular told me and swore up and down as if it were written by the Apostle Paul that Mr. Rogers had been a Marine and he wore those sweaters to hide the full body tattoos he received while in the 'Corps.
    posted by JHarris at 3:14 AM on November 27, 2010


    Obama: Don't Touch My Junk
    posted by gman at 5:03 AM on November 27, 2010


    This doesn't seem to be a stupid reactive thing, like having to take off your shoes just because of the shoe bomber. Any evidence to the contrary?

    Well, the pornoscanners are following the underwear bomber. So, it can be seen as reactive to that threat. Now, is it a "stupid" reactive thing?

    The pornoscanners cannot see through human skin. And there are cavities in the human body, such that one could easily hide items from the pornoscanners. The pornoscanners thus keep us safe from anyone who would do the exact same thing as the underwear bomber, but not someone who would want to get something on the plane and knows the pornoscanners are in place.
    posted by meese at 6:03 AM on November 27, 2010


    Can someone who has flown in the last two weeks please tell me whether EVERYONE is going through the machines or getting a patdown, or is it only those who the metal detectors or something else has flagged?

    My significant other flew through Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix on Tuesday, in the same terminal as where they have the pornoscanners running. He was sent through a normal metal detector... And, when his luggage went through the X-ray machine, the TSA agent was far too preoccupied with something on his phone to even look at the monitor.

    Keepin us safe!
    posted by meese at 6:07 AM on November 27, 2010


    Well, the pornoscanners are following the underwear bomber. So, it can be seen as reactive to that threat. Now, is it a "stupid" reactive thing?

    It's not that it's stupid, or ineffective as you suggest below. It's actually simply not worthwhile. After getting through magnetometers, we are pretty much at the point of diminishing returns from further scans. Any such scans are going to be inaccurate more often than they find something the magnetometer wouldn't, and all the while they breed resentment and cost money which could be used in a far more productive manner. More dangerously, again from a pure security standpoint, the false idea that this is how security works could create a state of lower awareness - when higher awareness, to be blunt, matters more than high-tech gadgets 99 times out of 100.

    None of which addresses the broader point that, except for the very basics, air travel security should not be happening at the airport. Most of the time, once they reach the airport, they're going to pull something off. Untrained morons such as the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber are going to be stopped by straightforward vigilance. For more sophisticated attacks like 9/11 (which involved months of flight lessons and in-depth communications), by the time the attackers reach the airport, it's probably too far in motion to stop. You need to have been working on stopping it well before then.
    posted by graymouser at 7:01 AM on November 27, 2010


    Canada Wishes Us a Happy Thanksgiving:
    "Happy Thanksgiving, America!"*

    * "The traditional TSA frisking of the bird."
    posted by ericb at 7:33 AM on November 27, 2010


    Mkay, here's my question - We're spending a ton and a half on internal security, including the government trying to get access to things like our Facebook accounts and such. We're doing all kinds of profiling to deny access to criminals at the borders. We search laptops and such.

    Then why do we have to jump through hoops with internal travels?

    Besides, my main worry about all this contextless data searching is summed up nicely by a certain French Cardinal -

    If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.

    And, yes, several years ago I had a public frisking at the airport when the first swab test on my CPAP allegedly tested positive for explosive residue (although not the second time).

    I was a little pissed that Clarence, the very large mustachio'd guard that frisked me, didn't even offer me dinner afterwards.
    posted by Samizdata at 8:02 AM on November 27, 2010


    With the sped up motion and the cuts to the printed narrative - This needs a dramatic piano as a soundtrack, like a 1921 Buster Keaton flick.

    Hey, you're right!
    posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:46 AM on November 27, 2010


    Re. the whole "a fully-armed society is a safe society" canard: We used to be such a society, here in the US. We changed for a reason.
    posted by lodurr at 12:00 PM on November 27, 2010


    Q: What does a police state look like?

    A: This is what a police state looks like.
    posted by thescientificmethhead at 12:02 PM on November 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


    It's alarming to read the past century's social histories of Italy and Germany. How the majority population shifted to an acceptance of totalitarianism and fascism to the point that people who had been perfectly nice people in normal life, ended up loading "undesirables" into boxcars.

    It's a seriously OMFG bit of realization: most of these people were just like our own neighbors and co-workers... and our own selves. Just doing what they were told and trying to help fix things.

    Dee Xtrovert tells us from first-hand experience that she's seeing America's culture/society changing in ways that is eerily similar to that of her home country, which fell to violence and atrocities.

    There is no reason to doubt that America can't become every bit as bad as any other Western society that went batshit.

    Neighbors just like our own. Fuck, but that should scare us.
    Half the voters voted for McCain/Palin. Alarming, indeed.
    posted by five fresh fish at 12:29 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


    It's been said already, but it's really fascinating who this issue (not to mention this thread) has brought together.

    We are headed into interesting times, and the deck is stacked against retaining personal liberty. Scalia's opinion in Kyllo laid the groundwork for technologically-mediated total surveillance of anyone at any time it's feasible to do so without physical invasion.*

    We've also established a pattern of courts ruling essentially that the 4th amendment really doesn't matter very much, and created a public tolerance not only for the indefinite detention without trial of anyone whose crimes are deemed "terrorism", but also the expectation that if they do get a trial, it will be in a kangaroo court with a guaranteed life (or death) sentence.

    Security theatre doesn't stop at the airport -- it extends into law "enforcement". It struck me today that every terrorism bust I can remember in the past couple of years has been via a "sting" operation: Someone is guided into taking actions that, if real, would lead to a crime. ("Attempted murder -- now really..." But I digress.) The usual argument is that these are people who would have done stuff if they hadn't been led to procurement of guns, explosives, plans, etc.

    But here's the thing: If we are to be expected to believe that those folks would have really Done Bad Stuff, we should expect to have seen some examples of people Doing Bad Stuff who didn't get identified by government snitches and led down the primrose path toward acts of theatrical terrorism.

    The alternative is to assume that American law enforcement agencies are really that efficient. And I'm sorry, but anyone who believes that is pretty hopelessly naive.

    So we have this regime of snitches and entrapment-by-other-names that very conveniently produces a steady stream of Bad People. This is very convenient. It's also very convenient that they tend to be foreigners, far from home, lonely, perhaps a little psychologically unstable. This is happening while there's real crime going on, by the way, causing actual deaths, and which is basically terrorism writ small. That's what organized crime is, after all, it's terrorism on a smaller scale and with the ideology reduced to "do what I want or I will hurt you."


    --
    *This is an aspect of Kyllo that's commonly mis-understood, I find, because in his ruling Scalia says Kyllo should get off -- but he says Kyllo should get off basically because the passive surveillance technology used to nail him was not common knowledge at the time. If it had been, by Scalia's logic, Kyllo should have stayed in prison. Ergo, as soon as any passive surveillance technology becomes commonplace, it's lawful for the government to use it and information so gathered is admissable, per Kyllo.
    posted by lodurr at 12:42 PM on November 27, 2010


    five fresh fish, what's the screening like in Canada?
    posted by lodurr at 12:51 PM on November 27, 2010


    lodurr, here's what confuses me. If the basis of Kyllo is that the imaging being used was not common knowledge at the time and thuse constituted an illegal search, how are these vans that thescientificmethodhead linked above allowed? How is anything seen by them not an illegal search?

    My understanding is that using the same technology in pornoscanners in airports isn't an illegal search because when you enter a security area in an airport, you waive your Fourth Amendment rights. I missed the part where we waived them driving down a public highway. I genuinely don't understand how any evidence found using these vehicles can be allowed in court in light of Kyllo.
    posted by DarlingBri at 1:00 PM on November 27, 2010


    DarlingBri, my understanding of Kyllo is as I've said; there are actual attorneys here who can offer opinions, but that often doesn't go well (legal opions get construed as political ones, e.g.) and in any case would probably lead to derail.

    However, what it looks like to me is that it's a combination of factors: people are scared to sue (afraid of bad publicity, reprisal), don't have standing to sue, or rulings are going against others who bring cases or appeal on constitutional grounds (see Rough Ashlar's note up-thread w.r.t. Fifth Amendment protections).

    I saw a film years ago as part of my public school civics education. I think I was in 5th grade. It basically argued that what made the American Constitution special was its Bill of Rights -- other constitutions had been brilliant and fair (they singled out the Weimar Republic's constitution for special praise), but didn't do squat to prevent fascist takeover because there were no explicit protections for speech, assembly, against search & seizure, etc. Even then I remember thinking* "that's great, but people have to enforce the rules." Well, the rules are getting ignored as inconvenient for our sense of safety. (Well, someone's idea of someone else's sense of safety. I've been thinking about this a lot and I literally can't remember ever being scared of terrorists, for even an instant. But I've always been scared of cops and the State.)

    --
    *one of the benefits of being raised by borderline-Birchers.
    **and another side effect, arguably less beneficial.

    posted by lodurr at 1:19 PM on November 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


    DarlingBri, Kyllo concerned the search of a home. Homes receive the most protection. Cars get some protection, but there are a lot of exceptions. Individual humans attempting to use common carriers to get around (planes, trains, etc.) probably get the least protection - at least as far as I know. So it's not clear that Kyllo can really work to protect you in the airport, to the extent that it is protective of individual rights. As for the vans, there are certainly grounds to attack their use, but again, it's not obvious that you could just slap down the Kyllo ace because you're not in a home when you're in a car.
    posted by prefpara at 1:24 PM on November 27, 2010


    Well that makes sense. I'm deeply dismayed by this development, but thank you both for clarifying.

    In related news, I just told my husband "In ten years, when they finally take me into care because I am completely unhinged and they ask you 'When did her symptoms start?" you can tell them the exact date: 'Well, the government conspiracy and ranting about civil liberties started on November 25th, 2010, when she found about the airport pornoscanners being used in vans...'"
    posted by DarlingBri at 2:36 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I apologize if this is a derail, but I had two thoughts on my commute home (via train)

    1) In the event there was a successful underwear bomber after the first attempt, there would be a right wing backlash that could result in Obama losing in 2012. The narrative would be devastating: "The Obama admin. had the tech to foil such a plot, and chose to not implement it.

    2) There was an attempt to blow up the crowd at the lighting of the Christmas tree in Portland. Now, one analysis could be, "Now the gov't will naked screen everyone, everywhere." Another analysis could be, "Yeah, that's why we're fucked, because we have a zillion soft targets. Sooner or later this shit was gonna go down."

    So the corollary to the second narrative is: Bombers on airplanes -- that's not going for a soft target. Because we have the tech to prevent it. So why not do that? (Is it possible to define the breast milk situation as an outlier, a case of, when you implement a new system, there's gonna inevitably be some stupid shit that goes down.)

    I don't know. I may a bit wigged because Portland is my homeworld and the idea of globs of people all over Pioneer Square has me, well, wigged.
    posted by angrycat at 5:15 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Free societies are by definition full of soft targets.

    A society without soft targets is a military camp.

    London was the target of a prolonged and very nasty bombing campaign by the IRA. I had breakfast at a restaurant once and half an hour after I left it blew up. The tube was constantly being shut down for fifteen minutes because of bomb scares (either phoned in, or discarded luggage). I was woken in the middle of the night by the Canary Wharf bomb.

    Yet despite this, we were not groped before going on the tube.

    (Belfast was pretty different, I guess).
    posted by unSane at 5:26 PM on November 27, 2010


    To explain myself a bit further: I wonder if there is some conflation between this particular episode with the breast milk, which seems like an epic clusterfuck, and how the screening/pat downs are supposed to go.

    Because while what happened in this particular situation is bad, is it a systematic thing? If so, then I'm ready to jump up and down and scream. If not, how about, fire the people who made the clusterfuck happen?

    As I've said in another thread, I have some bias here because I have pretty much zero inhibitions to being seen naked and patted down. For various reasons, it just doesn't trigger alarm bells for me. I understand it does for other people but -- I have a hard time seeing that as an objection based on reason -- it's more an objection based on the natural boundaries (defined by emotion) that most of us have.

    But if routinely, or pervasively, or even just now and then, people are getting detained because they don't want their medicinal liquids going through the screener, then I wholeheartedly say that's a big problem.

    I just haven't seen evidence of the above happening. Apologies if I missed it upthread.
    posted by angrycat at 5:28 PM on November 27, 2010


    unSane:
    1) Agreed, there will always be soft targets unless the Constitution gets flushed away. Ultimately, if somebody wants to blow up a crowd they'll be able to do that. I'd rather have that happen and keep the Constitution.
    2) Maybe somebody knows this better than I do, but I believe in NYC MTA the search and seizure rules were relaxed pretty significantly after 9/11 and evidence was uncovered of plots against the train.
    posted by angrycat at 5:33 PM on November 27, 2010


    There was an attempt to blow up the crowd at the lighting of the Christmas tree in Portland

    That depends on what you call an 'attempt.' Yes, a 19-year-old naturalized Somali kid dialed a cell phone number that he thought would detonate a bomb -- because he had been assured by (undercover) FBI agents that it would. (Supposedly he'd been 'thinking about violent jihad since he was 15', and had been trying to get in touch with jihadis for a year or so without success when the FBI approached him pretending to be terrorists.)

    That's what I was alluding to above. We have this and other conveniently pre-neutered would-be (or so we're told) terrorists that are being provided to us with the perfect timing required to keep us scared.

    I'm not calling this a conspiracy. I think the FBI, ATF, etc. people who drive these "stings" really believe they're protecting people by putting (fake) bombs and guns into these people's hands so they can try to use them, and get arrested for it.* But while they're out convincing 18-19 year olds to buy bomb parts on the internet and mail them to FBI agents posing as Jihadis so they can have a bomb made for them (thereby conveniently breaking some really heavy laws that kick in automagically whenever you do anything of that sort by mail), who knows what real terrorists are out there hatching real plots. (Or, more to the point, who knows how many drug-financed crime gangs are making violent inroads into American cities and directly or indirectly causing the death of Americans in the process.)

    At this point, I'm afraid the terror-security state is so well-established that it's too late to do anything about it. It's suborning the military industrial complex. Woe betide the President, Senator, Congressperson or Governor who goes against it at this point.

    --
    *By the way, have any of the literary folks in the audience noticed by now the uneasy resemblance this has to the way that O'Brien nails Winston Smith in 1984?
    posted by lodurr at 5:36 PM on November 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


    simtilar evil bullshit has been happening to non-white, lower income folks in the U.S. for a long, long time.

    Best to pick on the poor - less resources in both education and spare cash for things like lawyers and more likely shackled to the low wage job treadmill.

    If this gal was not a lawyer - AKA knowing about her ability to use the process of the Interrogatory to gather evidence - would this whole matter even be known to us?
    posted by rough ashlar at 5:58 PM on November 27, 2010


    I've been thinking about the 'it's a crisis when it happens to white/middle-class folks' thing, and it's occurred to me that, weird and un-just as it sounds, that may actually be true. Think about it: They've been able to do this to poor folks, people of color, and other marginalized people (gay/lesbian? female?) precisely because (as others have pointed out) they're easy targets.

    Well, now they're going after harder targets. Does that mean they suddenly got stupider, or they're less afraid of being challenged when they go after those folks?
    posted by lodurr at 6:04 PM on November 27, 2010


    There are some people out there really just trying to do their jobs within a system that may have it's head up it's ass

    'just doing your job' is a fine statement - so long as the people in charge telling you to do that job are still in charge.

    When others become in charge, that protection tends to go "poof". See Godwin derail of Neuenberg trials.
    posted by rough ashlar at 6:06 PM on November 27, 2010


    Second, the pornoscanner is an electronic device that captures and records biometric information. Information that can be used to track and identify you with the proper software.
    .....*one of the benefits of being raised by borderline-Birchers.


    Yup - if you hang 'round on the 'Birch sympathetic' style places on the Internet/download the right podcasts, you'd have caught plenty of references to the capture and processing of the biometric data.

    But hey - just call 'em "Conspiracy Theorists" and then you can dismiss such concerns as that of the wack-job.

    (In the peace that is Afghanistan, seems there is a wholescale iris/fingerprint gathering effort. Wonder how the troops doing that would react when asked to do something like that in their homeland or were asked to give up that info in their homelands?)
    posted by rough ashlar at 6:14 PM on November 27, 2010


    (Just to be clear, the 'borderline-Bircher' parents are mine, and the concerns regarding biometric data -- while I'm sympathetic to them -- were not.)
    posted by lodurr at 6:20 PM on November 27, 2010


    they're less afraid of being challenged when they go after those folks?

    Less afraid. The poor typically lack the education to 'do the dance' that is a court system. Odds are you can baffle 'em with "words of art"...you can get 'em mad so you get busted under the "sir, you need to calm down...not be angry...quit resisting" clauses. And if you are "on paper" (aka on the short brown sticky end of the stick in the legal system) the legal system can wack you like a pinata. You fall out of the "credible person" definition.

    Recordings of your interactions with others - being your OWN surveillance system is an example of how being educated AND having resources. Knowing how to send a follow-up letter to establish what happened - that takes both time and knowledge.

    Understanding that a 1947 court decision exists which translates to 'the person who's operating under the color of authority may be "misinformed" (aka a liar)'

    FEDERAL CROP INS. CORP V. MERRILL, 332 U. S. 380 (1947)

    AKA - if their lips are moving, better check what they say is the truth.

    (From the decision I'll cite the Masonic reference in the dissent just 'cause)
    It is very well to say that those who deal with the Government should turn square corners. But there is no reason why the square corners should constitute a one-way street.
    posted by rough ashlar at 6:33 PM on November 27, 2010


    There are porno scanners in Canada. I'm not sure which wavelength. They're optional, and the one at our local international(?) airport is never in use afaict.

    We have, or had, an effective privacy commissioner, so that may be part of the half-hearted installation. I'm sure that it'd be easy to get them banned on medical grounds—that is, human irradiation equipment needs certification.
    posted by five fresh fish at 6:36 PM on November 27, 2010


    unSane: "London was the target of a prolonged and very nasty bombing campaign by the IRA... I was woken in the middle of the night by the Canary Wharf bomb.

    Yet despite this, we were not groped before going on the tube.


    This is the same comparison being made with Israel, which provides a higher level of airport and civilian security without what we're seeing in the US. Without doubt, there are methods of doing this that provide better, proven security. My suggestion is that we sub-contract airport security to MI5. I'd be supremely happy with that solution.

    (Belfast was pretty different, I guess).

    Belfast was policed (or partly policed, depending on your politics) by the military. It didn't work out well.
    posted by DarlingBri at 6:38 PM on November 27, 2010


    (Just to be clear, the 'borderline-Bircher' parents are mine, and the concerns regarding biometric data -- while I'm sympathetic to them -- were not.)
    posted by lodurr at 6:20 PM on November 27 [+] [!]


    In the Venn diagram of labels of political philosophy and what become the talking points - there is overlap. Sometimes the overlap gets "wierd" - The Namoi Klein 'support the tea party due to the anti-corporate' as an example.

    And there are people who are using the biometric data as talking points - I'd swear one of 'em was the now dead Alan Stang....and ya don't get a whole much more Birch than him.
    posted by rough ashlar at 6:57 PM on November 27, 2010


    Rough Ashlar, I think I wasn't clear: I meant, does the fact that they're impinging on the happy relaxing times of middle class folks show that they're less afraid than when they were just picking on poor folks?
    posted by lodurr at 6:57 PM on November 27, 2010


    Re. my clarification, I was just trying to be clear about who said what, not challenging the juxtaposition.

    Alan Stang -- any relation to Rev. Ivan Stang? There would be a certain symmetry in it if they were...
    posted by lodurr at 7:00 PM on November 27, 2010


    I'm confused in that you say this:

    That depends on what you call an 'attempt.' Yes, a 19-year-old naturalized Somali kid dialed a cell phone number that he thought would detonate a bomb -- because he had been assured by (undercover) FBI agents that it would. (Supposedly he'd been 'thinking about violent jihad since he was 15', and had been trying to get in touch with jihadis for a year or so without success when the FBI approached him pretending to be terrorists.)

    That's what I was alluding to above. We have this and other conveniently pre-neutered would-be (or so we're told) terrorists that are being provided to us with the perfect timing required to keep us scared.


    And then you say there is no conspiracy and then you say this:

    I'm afraid the terror-security state is so well-established that it's too late to do anything about it. It's suborning the military industrial complex. Woe betide the President, Senator, Congressperson or Governor who goes against it at this point.

    From what you describe, it sounds akin to a loose (aka broader than the legal) definition of conspiracy.
    So I guess this is why, at this point, I'm having a hard time understanding your argument -- you think simultaneously that the Christmas tree plot was a device to support the terror-security state and that there's no coherent conspiracy?
    posted by angrycat at 7:04 PM on November 27, 2010


    that there's no coherent conspiracy?

    Depends. Does a conspiracy has to actually be secret or just not known "to the common man"?
    posted by rough ashlar at 7:07 PM on November 27, 2010


    I meant, does the fact that they're impinging on the happy relaxing times of middle class folks show that they're less afraid than when they were just picking on poor folks?

    Hard to say - depends on who the "they" is and what lens you wish to view the situation is.

    I'm betting you can find a TSA agent who will pick out people who s/he perceives as being from a "class" which had "oppressed" them in the past.

    And I know there are people who are asking about the money the scanner makers are making, who made the rules on scanners, and now is getting a cut of the cash from their previous rule-making. (Thus 'picking' on the 'middle class' is for their own profit - if you put on the "follow the money" glasses)

    But really - are the middle class going to do much more than the lower class VS the Federal backed legal system?
    posted by rough ashlar at 7:19 PM on November 27, 2010



    A tall skinny diabetic Arab has succeeded in causing this country to
    spend billions of dollars and millions of hours on security. Much of it farcical.
    And for the mefites questioning her desire to have the TSA follow their own rules and guidelines......Duh.
    posted by notreally at 7:47 PM on November 27, 2010


    you think simultaneously that the Christmas tree plot was a device to support the terror-security state and that there's no coherent conspiracy?

    You don't need a conspiracy to explain the motivation behind ensnaring "terrorists" who have motive but not means or opportunity. It's easier to accomplish than uncovering real plots, and helps those agents' careers. There aren't enough real terrorists to go around, after all. But it's no less security theater than the rest of the stuff mentioned in this thread, and the people at the top have to know this - and still allow it, encourage it even. The alternative for them is that people might think all this money plowed into "national security" is being wasted.

    So, yes, just as a snowball gains size and momentum as it rolls down a hill, the Christmas tree "plot" is a device without an overt conspiracy.
    posted by me & my monkey at 7:48 PM on November 27, 2010


    Apologies if this becomes a bit of a derail, but according to the linked article re: the Portland 'bomber':

    According to federal court records, in August 2009, Mohamud used e-mail to contact an associate overseas who is believed to be involved in terrorist activities. In December 2009, while the associate – who has not been indicted in this case – was in the northwest frontier province of Pakistan, he and Mohamud discussed the possibility of Mohamud traveling to Pakistan to engage in violent jihad. The associate allegedly referred Mohamud to a second person overseas and provided Mohamud with a name and e-mail address to facilitate the process.

    These are unproven allegations at the moment, of course.

    And then Mohamud spent several months trying to contact the associate, unsuccessfully. So according to the fed's allegations (which I realize are unproven and therefore suspect), this guy's failure to secure the means was only defined by several months.



    At any rate, Me & My Monkey, I understand your argument now.
    posted by angrycat at 8:48 PM on November 27, 2010


    In the event there was a successful underwear bomber after the first attempt, there would be a right wing backlash that could result in Obama losing in 2012.

    Maybe you're thinking too high up the food chain, for the moment. Think about the deputy assistant manager of the department responsible for oversight of the system of checking baggage at the airports. (I don't know specifics about DHS/TSA bureacracy, mind you.) Does s/he want the senior manager to come to him/her and say the chief of staff of the House rep on our subcommittee is demanding to know what's being done to stop underwear bombers and wants a detailed report on it ASAP? Well, when that happens the answer is "Here is your report to satisfy their demands showing we are now recommending "enhanced pat-downs" and are confident this procedure will stop underwear bombs" or whatever.

    Ever-escalating variants of security theater seem to be the result of bureaucracy that encourages implementing new procedures for purposes of being able to prove they responded, also CYA if necessary. Whenever the next attempted terrorist attack happens, managers can say "well we implemented X procedure to guard against this, we implemented Y procedure because of this," and "lessons learned are these, so now we recommend implementing Z procedure." Where's the mechanism in this system for thinking outside of the box? I don't know, maybe someone who works there can enlighten us.
    posted by citron at 1:16 AM on November 28, 2010


    And then you say there is no conspiracy and then you say this:...

    Conspiracy requires an intent to conspire and conceal.

    No conspiracy is required when people share sufficient values or goals to ensure a large number of congruent decisions.

    So, for example, people of a certain class will often act for [or against, but that's another matter] their class interests: arts philanthropists, for example, might decide to give money to people who don't challenge their assumptions about the superiority of their own class. Societies repress out-groups to preserve their identity. Residents of an upscale community know to vote for more restrictive zoning laws without having to 'conspire' with one another over it. People in a hiring processes at big American companies have typically known without having to 'conspire' what sorts of people aren't to be considered (old, women with young children, maybe women in general, whatever ethnicities aren't thought fondly of in that company, probably people with obviously variant grooming, etc.).

    The "Terror-security state" is basically the new version of the Military-Industrial Complex; it's superseded and subsumed it, and because a) it speaks to a baser set of impulses, and b) it gets to leverage all the existing elements of the military-industrial complex, it's going to be more or less impossible to dislodge without reshaping government -- not just American government, either. Consider the proportion of budgets that are devoted to 'defense.' Now consider what would happen to national economies if you seriously cut back on defense spending.

    (I should have called it the 'Terror-Security-Industrial Complex' to make my analogy clearer.)

    So, back to the 'Conspiracy' question: Is the military-industrial complex -- which just about everyone agrees is real -- a conspiracy? Or is it simply a social and economic structure -- a system of congruent interests and values? Nobody pretends it's not there, and you don't get called crazy or even asked to justify much if you assert its existence. The system that creates a convenient stream of neutered terrorists is not only real, but bragged-about -- it's said to be protecting us from people with "intent" to do harm. I'm just seeing it from a different perspective from the people who continually create that system.
    posted by lodurr at 4:13 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Put another way: What makes the Terror-Security-Industrial Complex so powerful is that it's not a conspiracy. It's just a normal human social structure -- hopped up on 150 years* of continuous cocaine consumption.

    --
    *150 years give or take, because it really starts at least as early as the mid-19th century, with the American Civil War and European colonial military adventures.
    posted by lodurr at 4:22 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


    How about everybody wears a butt-plug when flying. Show up at the airport with it already in, that way you're ready for the TSA. That's sure to make this whole thing much more....well much more anyway!

    Well, after reading this, I can only imagine what they'll do to someone wearing this. For those of you who don't know, instead of (yes, yes, TMI) a string, there's a little rubber nozzle on the bottom you can grab to remove it.

    (Hmm...now I'm envisioning Carrie scenarios that have TSA agents permanently rethinking their choice of career...)
    posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:22 AM on November 28, 2010


    Well, after reading this, I can only imagine what they'll do to someone wearing this. For those of you who don't know, instead of (yes, yes, TMI) a string, there's a little rubber nozzle on the bottom you can grab to remove it.

    Does your cup hang low,
    Does it wobble to and fro,
    Will they bump it in a frisk,
    On a scanner does it show...
    posted by tilde at 7:52 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


    From our friends at WFMU.
    posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:31 AM on November 29, 2010


    I'm reconsidering my flying commando plans for January after reading flapjax at midnite's link... they don't change their gloves? Oh, gaaaah.
    posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:07 AM on November 29, 2010


    Put another way: What makes the Terror-Security-Industrial Complex so powerful is that it's not a conspiracy. It's just a normal human social structure -- hopped up on 150 years* of continuous cocaine consumption.

    I am intrigued by where you're going with this. Could you please explain further...
    posted by Skygazer at 3:49 PM on November 29, 2010


    that's kind of where I'm at with it, actually. anything specific that's bugging you about it?

    Basically I'm just taking (what I see as) the standard critique of the military-industrial complex and arguing that it's evolved into a new form, or passed into new hands, or however you want to frame the metaphor. I'm also assuming that the military-industrial complex was damn near inseparable from government, at least in the world's developed nations (and especially in the US). And that when the next frontier is "terror" -- i.e., it's internal -- you have no external RUSSIANS!!! to set yourself up against, you're going to essentially go to war with yourself.

    The prototype and training ground would have been the War On Drugs, with some extra exercise and training in the War On Sexual Predators and the War On Satanic Cults.

    Since this is about such an elemental degree of protection (Us. In Our Homes.), I see it as being really really difficult, if not impossible, to dislodge the hold that this new terror-complex has on our society ("and worse", our economy).

    OK, so maybe I had a little more, but that's basically just rephrasing.
    posted by lodurr at 4:17 PM on November 29, 2010


    Has there been an update from the TSA? Do these people still have their jobs?

    I kind of think its hilarious that as soon as upper class white people have to deal with police harassment on a regular basis, the world is ending.

    You may have it backwards - this is one way to get social problems addressed; have the issue start to include people more likely or more able to make a difference.

    You can point or laugh. Or you can say "ok, here's a chance to get these people on board with us. With their help, maybe we can finally win this thing!"

    Maintaining the "them vs us" divide with schadenfreude is ultimately self-defeating.
    posted by -harlequin- at 7:04 PM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


    OK, so maybe I had a little more, but that's basically just rephrasing.

    I think you're spot on. There's a lot of Military and government security types whose jobs are dependent on some bogeyman or other and it was only a matter of time before it was trained on country as THE growth market of choice.

    But, see...I'm just trying to square that 150 years of continious cocaine consumption. First because 150 years ago that was QED, through various elixers and what have you, and I guess it was easy through what the 1920's?? And even then I'm sure it was still produced in medical grades for "very special people in society, the arts, government, the military, medicine, sports etc..etc...."
    and secondly becuase the comedic potential and metaphorical hyperbole of the idea that 150 years of cocaine consumption has taken us to where we find ourselves currently in this nation (With it's head firmly up it's own ass), is just to incredibly rich and awesome to not develop further.
    posted by Skygazer at 11:06 PM on November 29, 2010


    well, see, this is metaphorical cocaine. so chemistry doesn't really apply.

    on the other hand, metaphorical hyperbole has produced some really great comedy...
    posted by lodurr at 6:52 AM on November 30, 2010


    Arrested for ejaculating during gate rape.

    Damn. That was my ultimate back-up plan.
    posted by five fresh fish at 11:28 AM on December 1, 2010


    Fake.
    posted by unSane at 11:32 AM on December 1, 2010


    Is not. I grew every inch of it myself.

    Oh, the article? Yes, it is. Sorry.
    posted by five fresh fish at 6:11 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I was asking why she was so adamant about not having her breast milk x-rayed. After a few comments of people saying "why does that matter", I mentioned that in so doing, she was subjected to unwarranted harassment from a bunch of thugs with badges. If she had allowed her breast milk to go through the x-ray scanner, this probably wouldn't have happened. This is why I was curious as to why it was so important that her breast milk not be x-rayed.

    Very few medications are approved for use with nursing (and pregnant) mothers, since there have been few studies as to their safety for the children. If doctors are not in favor of medicating in these circumstances (even--obviously--as it's otherwise clinically appropriate), why should nursing mothers subject their milk to a procedure which has also not been tested?

    The medications that are prescribed are often done because, essentially, "a bunch of moms took it and nothing seemed to go wrong". Who wants to be the test group for backscatter with her baby?
    posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:47 AM on December 6, 2010


    Some people may opt to take the train, but that's not always an option given the length of travel and time available. How many people are going to see this kind of behavior and say "screw it, I'll stay home this Christmas"? I know we have.

    Also, regarding the "arm everyone" idea. I used to suggest this to people, half in jest. Seriously, though--I don't see where having everyone armed is going to be drastically better than simply "everyone forewarned". Given enough people, you can take down anyone (airplane layout can make this more difficult, though). It just takes more people, and if they're unarmed you essentially need more of a consensus before hurting/killing someone--and the action will be less risky to bystanders. Win/win.
    posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:55 AM on December 6, 2010


    thescientificmethhead: "Q: What does a police state look like?

    A: This is what a police state looks like
    "

    So I saw these videos and thought: "Man, I need to get involved, somehow. I need to fight back." Then I thought: "I can't do that. I'm married; I'm going to be starting a family soon."

    Kind of scary really that I'm frightened by the idea of getting involved in non-violent protests in order to protect the freedoms we're supposed to have by default.
    posted by Deathalicious at 5:48 AM on December 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


    Basically I'm just taking (what I see as) the standard critique of the military-industrial complex and arguing that it's evolved into a new form, or passed into new hands, or however you want to frame the metaphor. I'm also assuming that the military-industrial complex was damn near inseparable from government, at least in the world's developed nations (and especially in the US). And that when the next frontier is "terror" -- i.e., it's internal -- you have no external RUSSIANS!!! to set yourself up against, you're going to essentially go to war with yourself.

    For some reason, this was really frightening to read. And hard to argue with. We are a nation at war with our own people.
    posted by empath at 5:54 AM on December 7, 2010


    > Oh I'm so gonna write Kevin Costner a letter.

    Get me an address and I'll do it for you!

    I keep thinking these TSA stories won't have legs. I keep thinking people will move on to the next manufactured outrage. I keep being wrong.

    If you feel like writing a real letter to a real address:

    Transportation Security Administration
    601 South 12th Street
    Arlington, VA 20598
    posted by cjorgensen at 7:06 AM on December 7, 2010




    Kevin Costner
    East Highway 82
    Aspen, CO 81611
    posted by ericb at 3:31 PM on December 9, 2010


    So I saw these videos and thought: "Man, I need to get involved, somehow. I need to fight back." Then I thought: "I can't do that. I'm married; I'm going to be starting a family soon."

    If it's of any consolation, your children will think being a peon in a fascist state is a perfectly natural life, and probably won't think twice about it.
    posted by five fresh fish at 9:22 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Love is a liability. That's how they get you.

    From Jack London's The Iron Heel -- the narrator is trying to track down the real story behind a denied claim for injury on the job:
    "I wanted to become a naturalist," [the foreman] explained shyly, as though confessing a weakness. "I love animals. But I came to work in the mills. When I was promoted to foreman I got married, then the family came, and . . . well, I wasn't my own boss any more."

    "What do you mean by that?" I asked.

    "I was explaining why I testified at the trial the way I did--why I followed instructions."

    "Whose instructions?"

    "Colonel Ingram. He outlined the evidence I was to give."

    "And it lost Jackson's case for him."

    He nodded, and the blood began to rise darkly in his face.

    "And Jackson had a wife and two children dependent on him."

    "I know," he said quietly, though his face was growing darker.

    "Tell me," I went on, "was it easy to make yourself over from what you were, say in high school, to the man you must have become to do such a thing at the trial?"

    The suddenness of his outburst startled and frightened me. He ripped* out a savage oath, and clenched his fist as though about to strike me.

    "I beg your pardon," he said the next moment. "No, it was not easy. And now I guess you can go away. You've got all you wanted out of me. But let me tell you this before you go. It won't do you any good to repeat anything I've said. I'll deny it, and there are no witnesses. I'll deny every word of it; and if I have to, I'll do it under oath on the witness stand."
    So there's the rub. It's got to get pretty bad before people see principles as being worth the risk to their loved ones. If the risk is random and the authority behind it unassailable, it can be worse than if the risk is evident and relatively high.
    posted by lodurr at 10:12 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Delvonte Tisdale, a teenager from is believed to have somehow snuck into the wheel well of a commercial US Airways plane bound to Boston Logan from Charlotte/Douglas International Airport in North Carolina. His body was found in Milton, MA. The incident happened nearly a month ago - there evidence yet to be found how Tisdale was able to get into the plane. The TSA has yet to comment.

    Poor kid.

    Anyone who still thinks that the nudiescanners and groping really, truly prevent security breeches is kidding themselves. If people want to do something, they will find a way. You can't bubble proof the world around you. It's fucking impossible.
    posted by raztaj at 2:43 PM on December 10, 2010


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