TSA and Reality

first class ticketStories of mothers forced to drink the breast milk out of their babies’ bottles are not new. Neither are stories of the elderly persons subjected to humiliating strip searches. Stories like those solidified my belief that the TSA was an inefficient agency, but this month, my fourteen year old daughter was “randomly” selected for an additional security search- on each leg of our ski trip. Thankfully, the little SSSS marking on the ticket gave us a big flashing clue, so we checked the skis under her name to avoid being detained to watch TSA sift through smelly ski socks and underwear. It saved us some time, but I found out when we arrived home, that they had sifted though that stuff anyway.

My family talked about the futility of the searches that day. The boarding card alerts you with that SSSS mark well before you clear security. Does that make the search “voluntary” and akin to the NYC subway searches? If you are carrying a prohibited item, what would stop you from just walking out of the terminal? I guess that TSA supporters would say that they stopped a crime and inconvenience be damned. After all, it doesn’t matter if you are searched like a criminal- if you are not a criminal, it should not bother you. It is the price of security. But after being detained for additional search on four occasions (during 5 flights), my daughter and I wondered how far our fellow Americans would let our government go in the name of security. (We try to do our part here at home.) How much would people allow this administration take from them? And then, something of a biblical nature happened. David loaded his sling, and focused on Goliath.

People started fighting back. At Georgetown, there was the most effective protest that America has seen of late. Librarian, Kathy Glick-Weil, thwarted the FBI and her local police in their attempt to gain information without a warrant. And, one of our country’s financial institutions has pledged to act in a manner consistent with American freedom with regard to property rights.

They said, in the aftermath of 9/11, that Al Qaeda had awakened the sleeping giant. I think that they were right. But the sleeping giant was our very own government- and we can choose to be David or dinner.

26 Comments
  1. They always search teenage girls. Even before 9/11, my older sister was always searched. (She is no longer a teenager and no longer has this problem.) I’ve only been searched once, when they were bored in San Antonio.

  2. Really??? Nigel, You are from HP Dallas, right? Why would they search you guys? I know what you think, but look at the sterotype of the HP homeowner. hmmmmm

  3. During the Russo and Badnarik campaigns, I had SSSS on all but one plane ticket (and I was flying often). The moment the presidential campaign was over, I quit getting them. I flew to DC on very short notice to be on a TV program about two weeks after the election and didn’t even get zapped.

    Go figure…

  4. Just FYI, the SSSS usually is triggered by a last minute change on the ticket…b/c skis do not fit in the baggage x-ray systems they are always hand-searched, you can’t get around that. Usually, you don’t have to be present while your checked baggage is screened either.

  5. Sorry, no last minute changes. We are platinum flyers on American and are pretty up to speed with security. I know that skis are handchecked anyway, and that is why the two ski tubes were tagged as Riss’s checked baggage. As far as being present while your belongings are searched, I find that it varies by airport (and country). I do think it is funny that a 14 year old is “randomly” selected 2x for 2 flights. Like I mentioned, either she or I have been checked on 4 of the last five trips. Sure seems smart to pat down teens while someone else runs a swab over their Ipods.

  6. Michelle,
    I am certainly impressed with your platinum status on American on your trip to Vail. Seems we forgot about 9/11 or maybe since you didn’t suffer a personal lose that it doesn’t matter to you…after all you are Platinum. If a family member of yours was lost on a flight in the US you and your platinum status would be the first ones in front of a TV camera blaming the government for not protecting your family member.
    Also, if you made a delberate attempt to not have your skis checked by security, why are you now saying that you know that all skis are hand-checked. Must be the Platinum!

  7. I mentioned the platinum status only to demonstrate that I fly often and am familiar with airport security. And to clear up the ski tubes, I just did not wish to be detained on what was already a tight schedule fishing through dirty underwear for a FOURTEEN year old- she is so what TSA should be monitoring. TSA was founded as a knee jerk reflex to make people “feel” like we are safe. It has been demonstrated over and over that they are not effective. And in case you missed it, I don’t blame the all seeing god called government for anything – except stupid policies that do not work. Sorry I offended you- enjoy your evening.

  8. ARS, review a few texts on how to not sound like a dumbass…

    And Michelle, yes, I am, and no, my sister didn’t look sketchy. Kind of creepy if you ask me.

  9. Nigel- you are supposed to think your sis is creepy. ;o) That will likely change after you go away to school and actually miss her.
    And don’t be too hard on ARS- perhaps he thought me boastful- maybe he doesn’t realize that you do not “buy” your way to platinum- you “fly” your way there. And even when you are there, you are treated just slightly better than herded cattle.

  10. ARS you hit the nail on the head! I see it all the time, “I’m a ‘Platinum, Gold, Sliver,’ why do they have to search me?” Next time try this, take your platinum, gold, silver, jewel encrusted a** right down to the ole Greyhound station. Flash that Platinum card down there and see what happens. NEWS FLASH…. YOU DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO FLY…….. And the best way to avoid searches is to not fly.
    As for the TSA…What qualifications do you have to say that they are not effective…I’m sure you have years of security experience right? Or do you just read newspapers and watch TV…. my money is on the latter. Have you seen any aircraft taken down lately? Nooo….Hmmmm wonder why…I guess Osama is just resting…. And yes you do offend me..but I will have a good night anyway.

  11. Michelle: You sound like a liberal citizen. Since the Liberal ACLU will not let the US “profile” what do you propose we do for airport security? Since I mentioned profile…exactly what would we be looking for at the airport? Mohamad Atta or Timothy McVeigh? Have the terrorists resorted to using women and children for their cause? YES they have!!

    It seems to me that if you you allow a little extra time and realize that the extra effort is for everyone’s protection then it should all be worth it to prevent another horiffic event such as 9/11.

    As for Nigel…you my friend are the dumbass!!

  12. ARS, do you realize this is not a liberal website?

    We are libertarians, which means on 9/11 we think the other passengers should have been armed as well (ok, at the very least the pilots should have the option to pack).

    I find it incredible that you apologize for a bureaucratic TSA when you obviously sound like a conservative. Come on, don’t swap one broken government behemoth with another that’s even bigger and more broken, piss on my leg, and tell me it’s raining.

  13. Still sounds like a lib…You mean to say that libs don’t scribe on conservative sites and vice versa? I do not make any apology for the TSA. They have spent a ton of $$ and made a lot of mistakes. I asked what she would do to make it better. By the way…pilots can now pack…so you think that we should just let everyone on a plane because the pilot has a gun and/or an air marshall might be on the plane? Yeah I know…guns don’t kill people…people kill people.

  14. ARS – there is a world of difference between a liberal and an libertarian. Libertarians, unlike conservatives and liberals prefer freedom.

  15. BTW, I have to fly in the morning, and feel much less safe hopping on a commercial airliner which is controlled by the TSA than I did before the TSA took over. Gov’t sucks, do you get it?

  16. ARS, we only bag on the moral conservatives who want to tell us how to live our lives. In a lot of regards we simply want to government to butt out of how we choose to run our lives. Ditto for liberals who want to impose PC-think on us.

    You probably have more in common with libertarians (small “L”) that you realize :-\

  17. I am liberal ONLY in the fashion of smoke, drink and screw to your heart’s content. (what you do doesn’t bother me) But when you take my freedom/money-forcefully- don’t spend it on bullshit and tell me it is for my own good. And then-(rolling on the floor in a fit of laughter—- hehe), call yourself fucking moral and responsible. Are we really so fearful of living that we beg for someone to stop us from experiencing life? OK, maybe some of you are. I will take my chances.
    I think we were dealt 11- anyone wanna double down?

  18. Airlines pick selectees — not TSA. TSA just screens passengers and their luggage. Yes, selectees (picked by the airlines) do receive more scrutiny based on set parameters.

  19. Michelle: Got you going didn’t I. Hope the ski trip was calm and peaceful for you while it lasted.

  20. B. What would be the particular interest in a child? Once, twice- OK. But nearly every flight? It is a serious question, and if you know the answer, I would love to know it too. And ARS, you are funny. I don’t know what size family you have (or children’s ages), but sometimes getting back to work is the best vacation from your vacation. Calm and peaceful ski trip- nothing calm about skiing when you are old(er). Let’s both lighten up here and learn something. B., I am interested in your response.

  21. None of it is driven by TSA. Uncle. I believe you now. Each individual airline decides who is searched. It is not linked to TSA. The government agency has no say in it. If all that is true, why is it a government agency searching and not AA or Delta or Continental agents? If I get SSSS on American’s boarding card, can I go to the Delta counter to beat security? Or is the Sabre system tied to all parties? I am but a dumbass. And as such, I still want to know why screening biology books and IPODs belonging to 9th graders is essential to national security. You can frog my arm all you wish, but nobody has addressed the backwards method of gauging risk.

  22. As a platinum member, you have some clout with the airline. When you get your ticket with the SSSS, ask the airline to reticket you without the selectee designation. Often (unless you’re on “the list”) they will comply. Remember to be nice to them, you’re asking for a favor.

  23. My wife got the SSSS, but we didn’t know what it was – she was groped by AA hired security personnel (perverts) in a way no one but me has gotten away with in 15 years! I’ve been on the phone all day: TSA (not our jurisdiction), AA (no one home), London Heathrow Police (very interested & will consider criminal action against the employees involved!!!)

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