The TSA is security theater and a huge waste of taxpayer money.

TSA Waste
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This whole story shows that the TSA is at least partially run by idiots

But then we've known all along that the TSA reserves the right for its agents to make arbitrary decisions on a whim when they feel like it so I suppose it shouldn't be a big surprise.

Don't question the decision making process, citizen! This is for your own protection! If we decide something is bad you should just accept that we know what we're doing and hand it over! You do want to fly today, don't you?? What is it you're trying to hide in those nail clippers anyway?? #seb #security #TSA #stupidity

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The TSA Cupcake Lady Speaks: I'm Truly Sick Of Talking About Cupcakes
While the "TSA Cupcake Lady" is sick of talking about cupcakes, she's also determined that the dessert in question not be woefully misrepresented by descriptions of it being "packed in icing." To that end, she was kind of enough to write in and explain her side of the story, in response to the TSA's recent blog reaction to the cake kerfuffle.

For those unfamiliar with the bakery brouhaha, here's a quick recap: Rebecca carried two cupcakes on jars with her on her way to Las Vegas, she tried b…

When protesting the TSA’s new screening policies…

Pic of TSA Logo…try to remember that the poor schlep in front of you is just doing his or her job. I say this because protesting the current screening policies at airports is becoming increasingly more common and some folks are being way too nasty about it.

It’s not that I think you shouldn’t protest in some fashion, but it can be easy to forget in the heat of the moment that the person in front of you isn’t the one who made the rules. He’s just the one who has to enforce them and he’s probably not any happier about it than you are. There are plenty of ways you can register your complaint without being overly abusive to the poor guy who’s standing right in front of you.

In fact, if you can get into the spirit of things, you could have all sorts of fun with it.  One lady wore a bikini through the checkpoint and at least a couple of guys have done it in Speedos. If you’re really brave you can do like this woman did and strip down to your see-through underwear (NSFW video clip at that link).

There’s also plenty of products out there you can make use of if you want to get your message across in a more passive-aggressive way. Stuff like the 4th Amendment Underwear that has the amendment printed on it in metallic ink so it’ll show up if you decide to submit to the x-ray scanners. There are others too that will put fig leaves over your naughty bits among other things.

Try to have a sense of humor about it is what I’m saying. Just try not to bash on the poor slob who has to feel you up ’cause it’s not his fault.

The TSA incompetently posts its secrets on the Internet.

What a sad fucking joke the Transportation Security Administration has turned out to be. Not only they do engage in security theater that does little to nothing in preventing actual threats, not only have they removed any desire I might have had to fly anywhere anytime soon, but now they’ve gone and posted their entire screening manual online:

Massive TSA Security Breach As Agency Gives Away Its Secrets – ABC News

In a massive security breach, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inadvertently posted online its airport screening procedures manual, including some of the most closely guarded secrets regarding special rules for diplomats and CIA and law enforcement officers.

The most sensitive parts of the 93-page Standard Operating Procedures were apparently redacted in a way that computer savvy individuals easily overcame.

The document shows sample CIA, Congressional and law enforcement credentials which experts say would make it easy for terrorists to duplicate.

Here you go, terrorists! Everything you need to bypass our shitty security system! It includes a detailed listing of the limitations of our x-ray machines and the fact that we only check 20% of checked bags by hand. Those two bits of information alone should make smuggling a bomb into the luggage compartment a lot easier to do. You’re welcome!

“This is an appalling and astounding breach of security that terrorists could easily exploit,” said Clark Kent Ervin, the former inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security. “The TSA should immediately convene an internal investigation and discipline those responsible.”

Gee, ya think?

“This shocking breach undercuts the public’s confidence in the security procedures at our airports,” said Senator Susan Collins, R-Me., ranking Republican member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “On the day before the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s hearing on terrorist travel, it is alarming to learn that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inadvertently posted its own security manual on the Internet.”

I hate to be the one to tell the good Senator this, but most folks already have little confidence in the security procedures at our airports.

OK, perhaps “most” is an overstatement, but there’s a lot of us who have little confidence in the TSA and this certainly justifies that lack of faith.

“This manual provides a road map to those who would do us harm,” said Collins. “The detailed information could help terrorists evade airport security measures.” Collins said she intended to ask the Department of Homeland Security how the breach happened, and “how it will remedy the damage that has already been done.”

My guess is they’ll come up with even more annoying and pointless procedures that’ll further depress airline profitability causing more of them to go belly up. Soon you won’t be able to take anything onto the plane and everyone will have to fly 90% naked wearing only loincloths which will have to be inspected by TSA agents with very cold hands.

The TSA claims the manual is old and outdated, but I’d be claiming that too if I had caused such a massive fuck up. They’ve asked for the original version to be taken offline, but it’s too late to put that genie back in the bottle. Once it hit the net it was all over the world in short order and there are plenty of places you can read it. Wanna read it for yourself? Even ABC News has a copy of it online for your planning convenience.

No need to thank the TSA. They’re not listening to you anyway.

Grenades in your luggage? TSA says that’s A-OK!

Someone please explain to me why the TSA says that you can’t have a bottle of shampoo larger than three ounces in your luggage or a pair of fingernail clippers, but a couple of grenades is OK:

Federal airport screeners found two grenades in the luggage of a man set to board a JetBlue flight at New York’s Kennedy airport, according to

TSA specialists then determined that the explosives were inert and allowed the passenger to board the plane without ever informing police, the TV station’s Web site reported.

The TSA maintained that it’s up to their own personnel to determine when to call police, and said the agency was reprimanded for notifying authorities in a similar incident last month, reported.

Seriously, who is the dumbass coming up with these rules? Regardless of if the grenades were inert, which scenario do you think would cause the most concern among passengers: The one where a guy stands up and threatens to trim the toenails of everyone on board the plane if they don’t do what he demands or the one where the guy stands up holding a couple of grenades that may or may not be real?

Is the TSA staffed entirely by people with the mental capacity of Cheez Whiz? Is there not one competent person amongst them that can see the difference in potential threat between hand grenades and bottles of shampoo? The first thing that needs to be done if Obama wins the election is a complete overhaul, or preferably a complete disassembly, of the TSA. At the very least they need to hire someone with more than a third grade education to come up with the rules about what can and can’t be carried onto a plane.

TSA worker claims he’s a “Federal Agent” to police. They arrest him anyway.

If we needed more proof that being employed by the TSA sends some people on a power trip there’s this news item to consider:

Claiming he was a federal agent couldn’t keep a Chicago man from being arrested at Great American Ball Park on Saturday.

According to court records, when a concession employees working the View Level refused to serve Rafael Rosario, 26, he asked two more times.

When Cincinnati Police asked to see Rosario’s I.D., he tensed up and claimed he was a federal agent and the officer had no right to see his I.D. Records show Rosario is employed by the Transportation Safety Administration at O’Hare Airport in Chicago.

The police arrested him under the charge of disorderly conduct while intoxicated and being a total asshat. I guess all that bossing around at the airport made him think it applied out in the real world as well.

Would you prefer to be seen nekkid or groped by the TSA?

Yet another reason why I may never fly on an airplane again. They’re deploying more of those millimeter wave scanners that allow agents to see through your clothes to make sure those are actually your tits and not a couple of shapely clumps of plastic explosives:

Do You Have Any Naked Pictures Of Your Mother? The TSA Does – The Consumerist

While it allows the security screeners — looking at the images in a separate room — to clearly see the passenger’s sexual organs as well as other details of their bodies, the passenger’s face is blurred, TSA said in a statement on its website.

The scan only takes seconds and is to replace the physical pat-downs of people that is currently widespread in airports.

TSA began introducing the body scanners in airports in April, first in the Phoenix, Arizona terminal.

The installation is picking up this month, with machines in place or planned for airports in Washington (Reagan National and Baltimore-Washington International), Dallas, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Miami and Detroit.

[…] “People have no idea how graphic the images are,” Barry Steinhardt, director of the technology and liberty program at the American Civil Liberties Union, told AFP.

The ACLU said in a statement that passengers expecting privacy underneath their clothing “should not be required to display highly personal details of their bodies such as evidence of mastectomies, colostomy appliances, penile implants, catheter tubes and the size of their breasts or genitals as a pre-requisite to boarding a plane.”

Besides masking their faces, the TSA says on its website, the images made “will not be printed stored or transmitted.”

“Once the transportation security officer has viewed the image and resolved anomalies, the image is erased from the screen permanently. The officer is unable to print, export, store or transmit the image.”

Lara Uselding, a TSA spokeswoman, added that passengers are not obliged to accept the new machines.

“The passengers can choose between the body imaging and the pat-down,” she told AFP.

Assuming we believe the TSA is telling the truth about the images existing only long enough for someone to get a good look at your goodies, and I’m not at all inclined to believe that’s true, this does nothing to stop someone with a camera phone, or just a camera, from taking pictures of the screen itself. And someone eventually will given the quality of some of the folks working as screeners for the TSA.

It’s isn’t so much a sense of vanity or modesty that makes me unwilling to have someone stare at my nekkid form on a screen so much as it being a matter of principle. There are plenty of people that I’ve shown my naked body to in a professional capacity that are probably wishing they could unsee what has been seen, but I shouldn’t have to be virtually disrobed, or groped as an alternative, just to travel someplace via airplane. The presumption shouldn’t be that I’m a terrorist without some reason to back it up.

This kind of shit, more than anything the terrorists will ever do, is what is going to cause more airlines to go belly up as people decide it’s just not worth the hassle. Especially after some idiot TSA screener decides to snap some pics and upload them to the Internet.

Beware terrorists bearing nipple rings!

It seems the TSA thinks terrorists wear nipple rings. That’s the only reason I can see for the following news item about a woman being forced by the TSA to remove her nipple rings before she could board her flight:

Hamlin said she was trying to board a flight from Lubbock to Dallas on Feb. 24 when she was scanned by a Transportation Security Administration agent after passing through a larger metal detector without problems.

The female TSA agent used a handheld detector that beeped when it passed in front of Hamlin’s chest, the Dallas-area resident said.

Hamlin said she told the woman that she was wearing nipple piercings. The female agent then called over her male colleagues, one of whom said she would have to remove the body piercings, Hamlin claimed.

Hamlin said she could not remove them and asked if she could instead display her pierced breasts in private to the female agent. But several other male officers told her she could not board her flight until the jewelry was removed, she said.

She was taken behind a curtain and managed to remove one bar-shaped nipple piercing but had trouble with the second, a ring.

“Still crying, she informed the TSA officer that she could not remove it without the help of pliers, and the officer gave a pair to her,” said Hamlin’s attorney, Gloria Allred, reading from a letter she sent Thursday to the director of the TSA’s Office of Civil Rights and Liberties. Allred is a well-known Los Angeles lawyer who often represents high-profile claims.

There is apparently no level of ridiculousness that the TSA won’t stoop to in its ongoing efforts to keep terrorists from blowing up your plane using nipple rings. The best part, however, is this quote from a TSA official:

People routinely pass through security wearing wedding rings without problems and it might take a larger bit of metal to trigger an alarm, Baird said.

“I’d be really curious to know what this woman had in her nipples,” he said. “Sometimes they have a chain between their nipples, or a chain between their nipples and their belly button. It would have to be made of heavy metal to be detected.”

I imagine a lot of people would be curious to know what this woman had in her nipples. Apparently the TSA is very curious as it seems making folks remove piercings is a common practice. I’m particularly curious to find out why the TSA thinks this is some how important to airline security.

Scratch that. I’m curious to find out why the TSA doesn’t think they should be discarded like an old pair of hole filled underwear.

Flaw in TSA website exposed thousands of people to possible ID theft.

The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is a friggin’ joke. Not only are the engaging in security theater in our airports, but they managed to actually make people less secure by running a website that had basic security flaws:

The web site was hosted on a commercial domain by a contractor and did not use SSL encryption for submission forms that transmit sensitive identification information. The few pages of the site that did use SSL used an expired certificate that had been self-signed by the contractor. The lack of proper encryption was brought to the attention of TSA last year by security researcher Chris Soghoian, who noted that such “major incompetence” could have been avoided by basic oversight.

“At the request of Chairman Henry Waxman, Committee staff have been investigating how TSA could have launched a web site that violated basic operating standards of web security and failed to protect travelers’ sensitive personal information,” says the report summary. “These deficiencies exposed thousands of American travelers to potential identity theft.”

Te site in question was the traveler redress web site where you get sent if you have a complaint with the TSA. I suppose risk of ID theft is what you get for having the audacity to complain about such a fine and upstanding department of the government. They have an out, though, the TSA itself didn’t directly make the website:

The web site was created by Desyne Web Services, a web marketing firm from northern Virginia whose clientèle includes the FBI, USA Today, and George Foreman. TSA awarded Desyne a no-bid contract valued at $48,816 for development of the redress system. According to the report, the Request for Quote (RFQ) issued by TSA prior to making the deal stated that Desyne was “the only vendor that could meet the program requirements.” The report notes that Nicholas Panuzio, the TSA employee and technical lead who authored the RFQ, had previously worked for Desyne and had known the owner of the web design company since high school—a serious conflict of interest.

Following the revelation of security vulnerabilities in the system, TSA transferred the site to a Department of Homeland (DHS) Security domain and notified users who submitted information through the unencrypted form that they had been exposed to risk of identity theft. The committee’s report notes, however, that TSA never reprimanded Panuzio or imposed sanctions on Desyne. In fact, the report says that Desyne continues to operate several major TSA web sites and has received over $500,000 of no-bid contracts web services from TSA and DHS.

What’s this? Conflict of interest and corruption within a creation of the Bush Administration? Say it ain’t so! The TSA needs to be disbanded and the functions it performs turned over to some other more competent group. Like, say, The Three Stooges.

Excellent OpEd from an airline pilot on the idiocy of airport security.

Go read this New York Times OpEd by Patrick Smith. It’s an excellent rant about the idiocy that passes for security that is the TSA. A snippet:

No matter that a deadly sharp can be fashioned from virtually anything found on a plane, be it a broken wine bottle or a snapped-off length of plastic, we are content wasting billions of taxpayer dollars and untold hours of labor in a delusional attempt to thwart an attack that has already happened, asked to queue for absurd lengths of time, subject to embarrassing pat-downs and loss of our belongings.

The folly is much the same with respect to the liquids and gels restrictions, introduced two summers ago following the breakup of a London-based cabal that was planning to blow up jetliners using liquid explosives. Allegations surrounding the conspiracy were revealed to substantially embellished. In an August, 2006 article in the New York Times, British officials admitted that public statements made following the arrests were overcooked, inaccurate and “unfortunate.” The plot’s leaders were still in the process of recruiting and radicalizing would-be bombers. They lacked passports, airline tickets and, most critical of all, they had been unsuccessful in actually producing liquid explosives. Investigators later described the widely parroted report that up to ten U.S airliners had been targeted as “speculative” and “exaggerated.”

The passenger screenings are nothing more than security theater that offer no real improvements in our safety and are a waste of time and money that make travel by air undesirable at best. Yet we put up with it because too many Americans are credulous and scared and willing to accept whatever bullshit they’re fed by the Government if they think it’ll keep them safe. Given the stunning track record of lying to the citizenry that the current administration has racked up you’d think more people would be second guessing the story they’re being told, but very few do. It doesn’t help that the majority of Americans are scientifically illiterate and devoid of any real critical thinking skills which would help them to realize that the Ban On Liquids is just stupid. This is a point that’s not lost on Mr. Smith:

As for Americans themselves, I suppose that it’s less than realistic to expect street protests or airport sit-ins from citizen fliers, and maybe we shouldn’t expect too much from a press and media that have had no trouble letting countless other injustices slip to the wayside. And rather than rethink our policies, the best we’ve come up with is a way to skirt them — for a fee, naturally — via schemes like Registered Traveler. Americans can now pay to have their personal information put on file just to avoid the hassle of airport security. As cynical as George Orwell ever was, I doubt he imagined the idea of citizens offering up money for their own subjugation.

How we got to this point is an interesting study in reactionary politics, fear-mongering and a disconcerting willingness of the American public to accept almost anything in the name of “security.” Conned and frightened, our nation demands not actual security, but security spectacle. And although a reasonable percentage of passengers, along with most security experts, would concur such theater serves no useful purpose, there has been surprisingly little outrage. In that regard, maybe we’ve gotten exactly the system we deserve.

It was Benjamin Franklin who once said “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Those words remain as true today as they were in his time.

Link found at Boing Boing.