The TSA is a useless charade invented to make white people feel safe

By Duganz

Just seven months after 9/11 I attempted to board a flight for Washington, D.C.

I was 17, a junior in high school. Oh, and I was this huge punk rock geek boy who had blue hair, wore (embarrassingly enough) several sets of studs and spikes, about three feet of chain on my wallet, and a Fat Wreck Chords hoodie every day.

So, to some degree, I get why I was held on the floor of the Missoula Airport by two armed National Guardsmen while I was patted down and my shoes were confiscated. I spent a great deal of time trying to look like trouble, and these guys bought the facade. Still, I remind you, I was 17 and a freaking kid from Anaconda, Montana. I had never once been arrested (not for lack of effort on the part of my hometown’s police force). I didn’t do drugs, or drink alcohol. Even more telling, I was on a school trip sponsored by Close Up Washington, which you had to apply to. I was for all intents and purposes a good kid–one with blue hair, but a good kid.

But that morning in April 2002 I was held as if I were a danger to America. Another guy I went to school with was held as well. He was a redneck, boot wearin’, big buckle kinda guy, so maybe my hopes that I was messed with for my hair is misplaced.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. The issue is that I was treated like a criminal because I did not know my Chuck’s were setting off the metal detector, and that lack of knowledge got me searched by two guys with guns.

The main point here is that I was scared shitless for absolutely no reason because I was never a threat, and the government had no right to assume I was.

The Transportation Safety Administration treated me poorly because they were afraid of planes blowing up, and the world ending. It was just a few months after we saw 3,000 people die on TV on a looping repeat of media pandering, and propagandist fear mongering. I get where they were coming from. That said, I am a firm believer in the following words:

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.

That’s the Fourth Amendment, and what a grand message it is. Coming right after amendments giving me right to words, guns, and keeping the Army out of my home, the Fourth means that police cannot just stop and search you without cause, or a warrant––one that is specific in what they will search.

The TSA ignores this of course by assuming one thing: You want to kill people. If they do not believe that, then they are violating your civil rights, as well as mine. And for what? What the hell does the TSA actually accomplish? Last time I checked one nutcase nearly blew up a plane with his shoe, and another (Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab) tried setting his crotch on fire. (Ironically the TSA isn’t sure these new scanners would detect the infamous crotch bomb, so that’s nice.)

Both made it through security, and onto airplanes–hell, Richard Reed did it the month after the TSA began. Imagine if within 30 days of starting a job you made that huge of a mistake. You’d be fired. But, luckily our government is slow, woefully inefficient, and all about look instead of effort, so everyone kept their jobs.

Here’s some numbers: the TSA has more than 56,000 employees, and a budget of $8.1 billion to accomplish jack. I mean, come on, you’d think with that amount of money and that many people watching it wouldn’t come down to people on flights stopping terrorism.

Well, the government felt that way too, so they’ve recently added a fresh indignity to the business of flight: the naked scanner.

There have been plenty of blog posts and articles written about just how awful these things are, but in case you haven’t seen evidence, this is straight from the government:

As you can see in the third picture (from the left) that’s a penis. Also, the woman, first picture, has some love handles and a flabby ass (image 2). The TSA says that they delete the images, but, um, they don’t. Honestly, does that matter that much after a stranger gets to see your crotch? Aren’t you exposed too much even if the image is deleted? And isn’t it unnerving that a government that won’t allow “profanity” on TV will do this to it’s citizens? (“Sorry, you can’t show Janet Jackson’s nipple, unless you’re checking it for weaponry.”)

But, after all of that I have on observation to make:

You’re only scanned at the security gate. That’s it. If a terrorist wants to make an impression this holiday season, Mr./Ms. Martyr only needs to get in the crowd, and detonate. Getting on a plane with a bomb would endanger between 30 and 200 people. Blowing up at the crowded security gates…well, that’d make for some dead infidels.

So how the hell is the TSA making us safe? It ain’t.

The TSA is the window dressing our government likes to put up to satiate the needs of frightened middle class white people. They do things like this so you can feel a bit safer, and feel is it. You only feel. It isn’t real. It’s like HCR, the “missile defense shield,” or Jell-O. It’s just something to make you feel better, but ultimately provides nothing. Even if it apparently makes some anti-liberty nutbags feel better (One, Two).

But there are things you can do: Opt out of the scanner, and while you’re being given a pat down help educate the government official stomping on your rights by showing them a handy copy of the Bill of Rights. I carry one with my ACLU membership card. And speaking of the ACLU, they are on our side, so feel free to help them by joining.

Also remember this: your liberties are not worth sacrificing for the idea of safety.

***

Update at 10pm, Monday:

My wife wishes to add two points:

  • She is sad that I will no longer be allowed to fly, and
  • Magician/libertarian Penn Jillette turned me on to the tiny Bill of Rights cards, so give credit where credit is due.
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  1. http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2007/08/10/0410226.pdf

    Agreed that Thousands Standing Around is an inefficient operation. I don’t think, though, that the current understanding of the 4th Amendment precludes these searches.

  2. That whole logic of “current understanding” is an insult to the intelligence within that document. While our mighty court may not see the need to keep our liberty and privacy (cough, Scalia & Roberts, cough), I think eventually the tide will turn back to the right side of the issue.

    But you’re right that as of now the court’ are not on my side, and to that I say, “Take a minute to read the damn words.” Then again, I’m a nut who avoids areas of town that are being included in “random” police searches.

    • The concurring opinion makes the point that it’s not really 9/11, but even without that, and without terrorism (this is a drug case) you’d find that a search at the airport is ‘reasonable.’

      That’s not to say that judging a punk from Anaconda as a threat isn’t a total piece of tribalist bullshit.

      • It’s only reasonable if the popular belief is that people are a real threat to one another. This is not a case where people are realistically a threat to one another. Of course, I don’t believe in the “evil man around the corner.”

        Sooner or later I won’t feel like a wingnut every time I find myself nodding along to this, and not just for the beat: http://tinyurl.com/ncjcfa

  3. Pancho

    The entire purpose of this charade was to convince travelers that Dubya really was worried about our safety, and to distract us from the fact that 9/11 happened because he was sound asleep at the wheel.

    Now it’s taken a life of its own. Next we’ll be subject to sigmoidoscopies if we look vaguely suspicious. Some nitwit in Washington thinks up endless new way to harass us.

    A few years ago, I got stopped because I was carrying on too big a toothpaste tube. It was about half empty, but the white shirts said I had to throw it away. I pointed out that it was under the limit, and I’d be happy to squeeze out a couple more ounces if it made them feel better but my offer was rejected.

    Not long afterward, after getting my routine frisking, because I have a mostly titanium leg, the jerks had spread all my belongings over the reclaiming table. As I gathered my things back into my luggage, I noted to a gentleman next to me that we were put through all this bullshit, but the chemical industry, thanks to their lobbyist, Dick Cheney’s son-in-law, didn’t have to do anything. Any idiot with an RPG could go up to a tank farm and turn a good sized city into Bhopal.

    At that point, a TSA guy screamed at me and came charging around the metal detector, waving his arms aggressively and hollering, “You can’t say that about Dick Cheney.” I said I sure as hell could, it was my First Amendment right. He screamed that I couldn’t, but he had his own First Amendment rights and could tell me to stop. I told him that he indeed had them, but only when he wasn’t on the clock and wearing a uniform. He started heading my way but an airport policeman stepped between us and told numb nuts to get back to his post.

    Airport screening has always been fairly pointless. They’re regularly tested by the honchos, who try to smuggle contraband aboard. They almost never get caught.

    I went through Anchorage one time and the screener’s English was so bad I had to talk to him in extremely rusty Vietnamese to let him know he was going to make me miss my plane. At the same airport, post-9/11, my luggage was being closely examined in case I was trying to smuggle a fingernail clipper aboard and I swear to God, another passenger walked past me carrying a Tlingit war club replica. It took about another year before a sign went up prohibiting faux head smashers.

    • Pogo Possum

      Gee……only 5 posts into this topic and we already have a blame it on Bush comment.

      • JC

        Only 6 comments in and we get a Bush apologist. Par for the course…

        • Pogo Possum

          In case you didn’t notice, voters got tired of the “blame Bush” game about 9 months ago. But keep it up…….the 2012 elections are rapidly approaching.

          • Pogo Possum

            Even James Carville and Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg have this figured out:

            Greenberg Poll: Democrats’ “Blame Bush” and “Go Forward, Not Back” Message Driving Voters to GOP

            http://elections.firedoglake.com/2010/10/08/greenberg-poll-democrats-blame-bush-and-go-forward-not-back-message-driving-voters-to-gop/

            But heck…….you know know more than them so keep ’em coming.

          • JC

            The FDL article was just about messaging. Not reality. Big difference between the two.

            Not many people would stand up for most of the dem messaging going into the last election. It sucked.

            Dems have yet to figure out how to message in an era where republican strategy is to inflict as much economic pain as they can in order to regain political power.

            Fortunately the country doesn’t run on polls, and polls do not rewrite history.

            Bush fucked things up in a big way. And Republicans are taking advantage of their veto power in Congress in order to prevent Obama from making any meaningful achievements. And he has been unable to make political hay off of GOP obstructionism.

            None of that has anything to do with Bush culpability for what he did to this country. And working as hard as he and Cheney are on their historical revision projects, time will show more clearly his role during his terms as grand decider-in-chief.

            Or do you guys think that when presidents make decisions they shouldn’t be held accountable… ever???

            • Pogo Possum

              Voters are already holding Obama and the Democrats accountable as seen in the recent nationwide election results.

            • JC

              Well, duh. They need t be held accountable for their inability to deal with republican obstructionism.

              But no matter how bad Obama or the dems screw up, it doesn’t absolve Bush for what he did. People might forget in the short term, but history is not so forgiving.

  4. We are perfectly safe, no one is going to blow us up. I have alternative explanations for shoe and underwear bombs that make more sense than the official versions.

    I think it was George Carlin who said that the purpose of airport security was to make white people feel safe, but there is more to it than that. It’s not that they want us to feel safe as much as they want us to be afraid. They constantly remind us with their colored warnings, metal detectors everywhere, cameras proliferating, that we are in danger. We need to be fearful. It’s a governing tool.

    Michale Moore discovered when he filmed Blowing for Columbine that Canadians are an odd bunch, not afraid of stuff or each other. That’s normal human behavior, and how we would behave down here were it not for all the agitprop. Boogey-boogey!

    I almost laughed out loud last summer up in Anchorage as I realized waiting in a massive line that this was the place for a suicide bomber, and not on the plane. And the worst part is that if you act up even a little (touch my junk…) they can pull you off your flight, fine you, even arrest you. It’s not a free country, is it.

    • I’m not sure we’re “perfectly safe,” but regardless of that we need to stop creating barriers of “safety.”

      The world is not made of Nerf, and we will get hurt, and those psychotic among us will continue to find ways to break our hearts and spirits, but we cannot fall victim to the idea that our neighbor hates us and wants to hurt us.

      • Not “perfectly safe,” of course. But reasonably safe – so much so that we don’t need guns, don’t need to lock our doors or be screened before stepping on an airplane. Those things that do happen – muggings and robberies and “terror attacks” (when someone else does it), or “counterinsurgency” (when we do it) are either going to get us or not, and the odds are very, very small. Basically, we need to relax and take what comes, which is most often nothing.

      • you can only fit so many rats in a cage before they start biting each other. we are at 6.5 billion now….

        terrorism is just a symptom of the real problem: scarce resources and increasing population. yet everyone wants more of everything and right wing nuts want to stop birth control.

        insanity.

        at least lemmings have the sense to spill over the cliff once in awhile.

        • The Polish Wolf

          Population density in Saudi Arabia, where most of the 9/11 terrorists came from and where most of the ideology and philosophy behind Islamic terrorism arose – 31/sq mi.
          Population density in Holland, universally considered one of least violent and most polite countries on earth: 1037/sq. mi.

          Terrorism has nil to do with population density. It has to do with taking a society accustomed to one kind of life, and dropping on it trillions of dollars and modern weaponry. Imagine if all the Gavril Princips and Leon Czolgoszes of our transitional period had had AKs and C4 at their disposal.

          • PW-
            square miles of nothing is nothing. people congregate around water and food, just like our test subjects.

            the model for overpopulation of rats in a cage is there is still only one water bottle and one feeding pellet station.

            it is mostly about scarce resources and overpopulation- not space. space means nothing if you can’t survive in it.

            it is still valid and explains a lot about increasing tension accross the globe. extreme politics, religion and ideologies are simply symptoms of the real problem- overpopulation.

            • The Polish Wolf

              During the forties, undoubtedly the most violent decade of human history, the world population was half what it is now.

              Between 1880 and 1914, terrorists killed two presidents, a czar, and an Austrian empress and Duke, sparking reform, repression, and a world war. I would go ahead and say terrorism was a bigger issue then than now, and yet the population was a fifth what it is today.

              Yes, some violence can be seen as a response to overcrowding and competition for resources. But terrorism like we see it today is less focused on securing resources and more on securing control of societies.

  5. Ahem … “Bowling” for Columbine.

  6. JC

    You got to read this story about the guy who refused to be backscattered and have is genitals patted down on his return to the U.S. from Europe. I guess after he got off the plane and went through customs, you have to go through the security system just to enter the terminal.

    After a 2 1/2 hour standoff with TSA, Delta and the local cops, refusing to be abused, he was finally escorted out to the street by 13 TSA officials and 2 cops, and told to “Have a nice day.” Resistance is not futile, if you have the time to screw with the system.

    No Blasters

    • Good god! Has it really come to that? Are we truly that insane? What it the point of this kind of fear?

      • JC

        The terrorists have won.

    • According to Amy Goodman, he is being investigated and could be subject to an $11,000 fine. However, due to the fact that the video went viral, it’s unlikely.

  7. Well, the government is a wonder these days, that’s for sure. Armed with 8 years of university math, chemistry and biology, MS Soils/chem from MSU, MCL, oh yeah baby, 3 years grad research, I embarked on a “research” position with RDD next to the DOJ in Missoula. A “supervisor” tells me he smokes crack every day with the rank and file (as they ALL do, or else…), and that on 7$/hr for five years he’s bought himself a $50,000 pickup and a farm up Nine Mile. The others validate this story to the max. Ok, stop and think here. This isn’t real (the DEA sure didn’t buy my story, but they were polite enough not to say so). I’m insane (which says a lot for stellar achievement during university education in Montana). Or, we have a bunch of bungling, snotty faced, fed agents doing a bang up job of setting up a sting (all this effort for a poor kid who risked death in Vietnam to afford all that education). Anyway, it’s your state, I’ve given all I could and given up, but let me say it ONE more time. “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one cometh to the father but by me…. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hear my voice…” God is real and he’s at the door. Answer it.

    • Please, if you’re a first time reader, disregard any accusations Alan makes. He’s a nut. He has absolutely no proof that anyone at the DOJ smokes crack daily. He just says things, but lacks facts. If he ever did find a fact he’d be, to quote the Joker, “…like a dog chasing a car. If [he] got it [he] wouldn’t know what do to with it.”

      • clive s lewis

        Beheaded, I stand at the door with the Watchtower; it is a crock.

        • Well, now, it wasn’t me making the accusations, Einstein, it was the folks who claimed to be working next door to the place, or weren’t you clever enough to catch that? I suppose not, going through an airport looking like a punk rock star. Then once you put in 8 years in the Montana University System, boys, you’ll have earned the right to shoot off your mouth. Until then, keep it zipped. At both, ends, boys. Thanks.

          • Sorry to insult the grandness of your sourcing there, Alan. My hasty insult does make it seem as though you were flinging BS, but you were in fact flinging secondhand BS (which is just as libelous and wrong, but whatever).

            While I have no idea how you associate a lack of cleverness with a punk rock phase, I can only chalk that up to your worldview, and (correct) assumption that I’m not a fan of Jesus. However, this worldview does not allow you to call me “boys” (plural), for I am one (singular) adult male.

            You’d think that in eight years of higher education someone would have helped you with that singular/plural issue, but, alas, no.

            Now that I’ve had my fun, I’ll be serious:

            On this site Alan you have made claims of unreported rape, city officials and police running a cocaine racket, and now DOJ employees who smoke crack (a secondhand accusation). I’m sure there are many gems like this in the past, but these are the ones you have articulated on my posts. You’ve provided no proof for these accusations, and they are not things that you can have an opinion about. (You cannot have an opinion that someone is running a cocaine racket, you need proof or it’s called libel.) You’re ongoing libel will continue to be met with my denouncements until such a time that you simply state an opinion.

  8. PECB

    Time to seek out and utilize air travel options not affected by TSA B.S. — things like charter, local private pilots, small regional airlines that have structured their ops to avoid as much Federal B.S. as possible, etc… .

    NOTE: Local private pilots can offer suprisingly affordable options and even private charter can be very affordable when done in groups. Another option (if you fly alot) is to get together with a local private pilot, and some friends, and set up a group ownership arrangement of an aircraft that meets most of the group’s needs. Some recommended, affordable, capable aircraft: cessna 206, cessna 210, cessna caravan, king air 100, and the king air 200 (most, especially non-aviator types, will be happiest with the caravan and king air aircraft).

    • I actually work via contract sometimes for a certain billionaire, picking up wealthy people at the private hangars here in town. It’s insane how relaxed the spirit there really is. An employee once told me that she gets passenger rosters, and they are always a bit off — some people don’t come, unexpected people do. That doesn’t fly on the commercial side. Could you imagine the uproar if United submitted a false manifest? Anarchy.

  9. ladybug

    They’re selling us full-body scanners that don’t work that well for a lot of money. The groping is to force us through them like cattle shoots. It’s not what you think that needs adjustment, but what you do when confronted by police power. I doubt Orwell could imagine the scene today. Security of freedom, you choose. We have chosen passivity by failing to confront our collective fear. Authoritarians take all you give them and want more. Stand up, strip down, and keep the line moving.

  10. ladybug

    Or try chute above for shoot, but I’m kind of liking shoot. COFFEE.

  11. Pancho

    http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/158-158/4032-would-you-rather-be-groped-or-zapped

    Above URL links to David Corn on the dangers and humiliations of frisk vs. irradiate. He recounts the incident of a bladder cancer victim who urosotomy bag gets busted by a frisking agent, leaving him flying drenched with pee.

    Also, from a friend who gets right wing posts, it looks like they’re unhappy too, though a lot of myths get circulated by the right wing noise machine.

    Friday, November 19, 2010
    http://patriotpost.us/perspective/2010/11/19/tsa-takes-nail-clippers-from-ar med-soldier/

    File this one under “Non Compos Mentis.” Several hundred National Guard troops were
    flying back home from Afghanistan when they ran into the TSA at Indianapolis. As one
    of the soldiers described it, “That’s where the stupid started.”

    The soldier said, “It’s probably important to mention that we were ALL carrying
    weapons. Everyone was carrying an M4 Carbine (rifle) and some, like me, were also
    carrying an M9 pistol. Oh, and our gunners had M-240B machine guns. Of course, the
    weapons weren’t loaded. And we had been cleared of all ammo well before we even got to
    customs at Baghram, then AGAIN at customs.”

    Any sane person would be reasonably sure this contingent didn’t include any would-be
    terrorists. Not the TSA.

    One soldier had a Gerber multi-tool confiscated, and a TSA agent insisted that another
    turn over his finger nail clippers. According to the soldier reporting the story
    , “The conversation
    went something like this:”

    TSA Guy: You can’t take those on the plane.

    Soldier: What? I’ve had them since we left country.

    TSA Guy: You’re not suppose to have them.

    Soldier: Why?

    TSA Guy: They can be used as a weapon.

    Soldier: [touches butt stock of the rifle] But this actually is a weapon. And I’m
    allowed to take it on.

    TSA Guy: Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets.

    Soldier: And I can take over the plane with nail clippers?

    TSA Guy: [awkward silence]

    Me: Dude, just give him your damn nail clippers so we can get the f–k out of here.
    I’ll buy you a new set.

    Soldier: [hands nail clippers to TSA guy, makes it through security]

    This might be a good time to remind everyone that approximately 233 people re-boarded
    that plane with assault rifles, pistols, and machine guns — but nothing that could
    have been used as a weapon.

    There, don’t you feel safer?

  12. Pancho

    Well, I checked to see if the “G.I.’s back from Afghanistan” with “nail clippers” was an urban legend, disseminated by the right wing noise machine.

    I’m sorry to say it was. I knew that they were forbidden, back in 2001 or ’02, but apparently they’ve long been permitted after the immediate hysteria died down.

    Here’s from the TSA’s own site:

    http://blog.tsa.gov/2009/05/tsa-urban-legends-nail-clippers.html

    Lastly, nail clippers. I can’t even count the number of times I have heard or seen this… Totally not true. Way back when, 2001, pre-TSA, post 9-11, nail clippers were prohibited, probably an immediate reaction to the events of that day. However, when we came along, we changed the list, allowed nail clippers, but still get accused of being pro-long finger nail. Totally not true.
    Trim those nails, in flight if you want, just be sure the passenger sitting next to you doesn’t mind a flying hang nail…. Oh yeah, no blades on nail clippers either. Nail files on the other hand are OK.

  13. Adam Savage says, WTF TSA?

  14. I agree Duganz – Janet Napolitano needs to go.

    Like most of the other Obama appointees, she doesn’t have a clue.

  15. She definitely shoulders blame, but the real fiend is John. S Pistole, head of the TSA. If he cared he’d end these violations.

  16. Pogo Possum

    One more thing to add to my list of things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving: Duganz wife won’t let him fly so it will make my trip through the airport security line so much quicker now that I don’t have to wait for him to remember to take off his “Chucks”. :-)

  17. She’s okay with me flying, she just figures that my smack talk about the TSA will get me on a government watch list.

    All the same, no traveling this holiday season for me, Pogo. Have fun assuming the position for your freedom injection.

  18. Pogo Possum

    I think she is more worried about your fellow Dems mistaking you for their perception of a member of the Tea Party.

    Enjoy the holiday weekend, drive safely, eat lots of turkey and stay warm.

  19. I disagree with the TPs on 99 percent of their issues. If we are to share some common ground, let it be on the guarantee of privacy (lord knows we disagree on the separation of church and state).

    Have a good holiday Pogo.

  20. mr benson

    Setting aside “clive” for a while, he’s busy defending the pederast priest who took a contract out on his accuser, I really can’t understand the paranoia. Far left and far right unite in an orgy of making paper license plates and scanning the sky for black helicopters. “You can’t make me buy a license plate to drive” “You can’t give me a ticket for not having a license”. “You can’t ask me for an ID.” Yeah, you’re all so put upon.

    Well they can scan me, ask me, stop me, pat me. I’d rather they Israelify the airports, but that would really set your undies knotting and twisting. I’d prefer they not frisk little old ladies from Lewistown just to show they’re not profiling. That’s idiocy.

    I’m not trading anything any more than I trade when driving, or ordering a drink in a bar. Wasn’t it a few of you whimpering about how unfair it is to make the disgustingly obese buy two seats? Yeah, whatever, let them buy a case of twinkies and drive. You too.

    • “I’m not trading anything any more than I trade when driving, or ordering a drink in a bar.”

      Um…. so… you expose your genitals while driving or buying a drink? You get groped by the bartender? You take your shoes off?

      Well, just because you’re giving up your 4th Amendment rights doesn’t mean we all are.

  21. I’d rather they Israelify the airports, but that would really set your undies knotting and twisting.

    I disagree Mr. B. I wish they would Israelify the airport screening.

    1) ISA agents are highly educated and well trained. TSA agents have an average education of a high school diploma, that number well brought down by the alarming percentage that have GEDs.

    2) Profiling doesn’t mean the same thing in Israel as it does here. Though it’s easy to blame a culture of ‘political correctness’, it would be more accurate to blame the media hype and the fact that we as a people expect our authority figures to be idiots. I might add, that’s a view also promoted by the media.

    3) Israelis profile at point of contact by talking to people. They’re trained to do that. We in America keep trying to come up with technological solutions to accomplish the same thing, and isn’t it funny that we keep failing. Machines have no discernment. It might sound a little funny coming from me, but I discovered long ago that the yearning for technological solutions to problems that can be fixed by a human acting with more sense than a turnip are a waste of resource, and generally worse than just training people to think.

    4) As Duganz points out, the TSA already profiles, but they do so stupidly because they aren’t taught the difference between danger and the look of danger. You’ve met me, Mr. Benson. The last two times I flew out of Denver (God willing the last times I will ever fly until I go to Egypt with the beloved) I was pulled aside for special attention. It wasn’t because I look like an Arab or a terrorist. It’s just because I look scawy, not right. That’s already profiling, the really stupid kind, without the pretense of race to complicate things. That’s the kind of profiling that pisses liberals, and pretty much everybody else, right the hell off. From my carry on and a simple question, those TSA geniuses could have discerned that I was a business traveler. But no, everybody has to be treated equally, those of us who look unsavory a bit more equally than others.

    I, for one, would welcome an Israeli kind of profiling. Considering that more Arabs fly El-Al every year than US airlines combined, I’d guess they’d welcome it too.

    • mr benson

      I get the extra search at Gallatin Field every time I fly. Scawy, apparently, is n the eye of the beholder, Wulfgar!.

      You make excellent points.

      It’s just me. I’ve heard too many times how it was a “right” to be be on the roads without government interference to buy off on much of that from people flying in airplanes.

  22. lizard19

    terrorists want to blow us up because our foreign policy entails illegal occupations and the slaughtering of innocents. change that reality, and maybe there will be less extremists who want to make us pay for the destruction and death our country imposes on others.

    • The Polish Wolf

      Lizard, for all of your anti-Imperialism and liberally enlightened view of foreign policy, you are surprisingly US centric. Most terrorist attacks don’t strike the US – far from it. Most terrorists kill other Muslims, and guess what? It’s not for illegal occupations or slaughtering innocents, it’s for going to school or not wearing a burkha or cutting women’s hair or selling bollywood DVDs or being Christian or Ba’hai or Jewish or Yazidi or Hindu or the wrong kind of Muslim. We could stop our own interaction with terrorists but only by consigning the Middle East and potentially South Asia to chaos.

      • lizard19

        i’m not talking about ALL terrorism. my response was to the “enhanced” TSA security measures this post discusses. so yes, it’s US centric, because that is what is being discussed here; stopping terrorism against Americans.

        • The Polish Wolf

          What the US would have to do to calm the likes of Al Qaeda is a complete disengagement from the Middle East. That will save us the inconvenience of airline security (as long as we also eliminate the Federal government in order to adequately appease our right-wing domestic terrorists), but it will condemn millions of people to repression in the Middle East (and probably hundreds of thousands to death) and will hand control of the largest oil supplies in the world over to our enemies or at least rivals.

          On those occasions I fly, I’ll gladly go through the body scanner rather than disengage the US from Middle East policy. And by the way, the post refers actually to the “TSA”, not just body scanners. So I suppose Douganz would do away with the metal detectors too, since all they have done is make white people feel safe and they certainly haven’t done anything to prevent another hijacking in the last eight years.

          One last point though – this will all be a useless charade when terrorists start swallowing bombs, which I’m sure they are already thinking about.

          • Yes. I would do away with metal detectors at the so called “security gates.” I would make metal detectors mandatory for entry into the building, as they do at federal buildings, ya know, cause that’s much safer than opening up the building to any and all, which is stupid.

            But even then, metal detectors will not make you any safer. Metal detectors didn’t stop 9/11, so you’re argument that they’ve curbed hijackings since that day is complete humbug. Metal detectors, like body scanners, are window dressing at best–a nice ceramic blade would kill a pilot, for instance.

            As for our Middle East policy… We helped put the leaders in place who you say would “condemn millions of people to repression.” The Shah gave rise to the ayatollahs. Saddam gassed Kurds with American-made poison gas (one of the few things we still bother to manufacture here). And the Taliban is comprised of many people who served with the more friendly named “Mujahedeen,” which we were more than happy to arm.

            On a more personal note: please spell my name without an “o.” If I knew your real name I would gladly learn to spell it. I feel that’s basic respect that we can show each other.

            • while somewhat lacking in social skills i find that pw does provide fodder for thinking most of the time.

              and thinking never hurt anybody i’m thinking.

              while i often don’t agree with pw’s fairly conservative archie bunker democratic approach to politics -especially regarding foreign policy, i like the way he provides counterpoint around here. and his arguments often do have merit.

            • The Polish Wolf

              Duganz – I will gladly spell you name right. My apologies. And I wouldn’t go so far as to defend our policies in the Middle East.

              But our disengagement from the Middle East is not an option – you can argue that we never should have supported Israel’s occupation of Palestine, but does disengagement make sense now that Israel is in possession of nuclear weapons and Iran is desirous of them?

              Obviously, supporting the Shah over Mohammed Mossadegh was a bad choice. But funding the Mujahedeen? Sure, it came back to bite us, but the thousands of Americans who died as an indirect consequence of that decision pales in comparison the the million Afghans who died as a result of the Soviet occupation.

              I agree that we never should have supported Saddam Hussein, but can you imagine the consequences if we had abandoned Kuwait and potentially Saudi Arabia to a dictator who was more than happy to liberally use chemical weapons in warfare?

              But the net effect of US foreign policy is really secondary. I am curious at what point in US – Muslim relations the general opinion of Muslims did not view non-Muslim Americans as legitimate targets of violence. What foreign policy decision led to the current state of affairs? Because I propose that while US foreign policy exacerbates hatred towards the US in the Middle East, the fundamental ideologies that justify terrorism far predate the existence of the United States.

  23. And again, even profiling is pointless, as if anyone wanted to do harm, they merely have to go to the queue waiting for pawing and gawking. Is everyone afraid of everything?

    I would have gladly stepped aboard a airliner the day after 9/11 with a manifesto full of Arab-sounding names, read by book or listened to my IPod, and gotten a little nervous at landing,a s I always do.

    Americans are basically scaredy-cats, in my view. Happy Thanksgiving, home of the brave!




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