MASTERPIECE SECURITY THEATRE  9:24 am August 13, 2012

Boston TSA Screeners: Junk Science Failed, So Let’s Try Racial Profiling

by Doktor Zoom

Do not taunt Happy Fun GloveIn a very limited way, we feel a little sympathy for the Transportation Security Agency workers at Boston’s Logan International Airport: just like any employees in an organization that’s had the latest managerial fad foisted on them, they had to take a ridiculous system’s unrealistic assumptions about the world and apply them in a real-world workplace. So, like plenty of office workers who just smile and say they’re “implementing Six Sigma,” a bunch of Boston TSA agents basically made things up and said, sure, we’re following the program. Unfortunately, in this case, the innovation was a TSA program to identify high-risk passengers, and the improvisation turned out to be plain old racial profiling, which moves the narrative model from Office Space to American History X.

We already know about the joys of TSA’s porno cancer death scanners and routine child and congresscritter gropings. But since the TSA is driven by the need to be seen Doing Something About Terrorism, they’re always looking for new techniques to identify people who need to be looked at more closely. The Boston screeners were making a hash of TSA’s “behavior detection” program, which takes the common-sense poker player’s instinct that people who are hiding something have “tells” that betray their intentions, and attempts to systematize it into a method that would allow TSA officers to read the faces of hundreds of people a day as they pass through airport security.

Even when it’s done the way it’s supposed to be done, “behavior detection” is some seriously lousy science. But a number of Boston TSA screeners didn’t even follow the (highly questionable) protocols of the TSA method — instead, they simply relied on good old stereotyping:

“They just pull aside anyone who they don’t like the way they look — if they are black and have expensive clothes or jewelry, or if they are Hispanic,” said one white officer, who along with four others spoke with The New York Times on the condition of anonymity

It appears that the profiling arose, in part, in reaction to “managers’ demands for high numbers of stops, searches and criminal referrals,” which is certainly surprising! Who ever heard of arbitrary demands to boost arrests resulting in more bogus arrests? Talk about surprising!

The idea behind “behavior detection” is that a trained assessor should be able to identify “signs of unusual behavior, like avoiding eye contact, sweating or fidgeting,” that might indicate that a passenger might be up to no good. Unfortunately for the TSA, airports are alrady places of high stress where people tend to sweat and fidget a lot, particularly when they have to go through security. But while the scientific claims for the techniques are disputed, the practice is also advocated by — big surprise! — TSA bureaucrats who want to seem useful, and supported by an infrastructure of contractors who make a nice living teaching TSA agents how to do it. Like a weapons system that doesn’t really shoot down enemy planes, the program becomes a self-justifying expense, because it might work, and there’s a lot of people whose living depends on it continuing.

To their credit, several TSA agents disgusted by the profiling went to the ACLU to complain about the practice; it’s a relief that they were willing to come forward. On the other hand, it’s pretty telling that they had to go to an outside organization to blow the whistle on an abuse that resulted from their own managers’ desire to boost their statistics. And, of course, even if the rogue agents had avoided the racial profiling, they’d still be pursuing a program of questionable validity, but at least then they’d merely be ineffectual and annoying. Everone needs a goal: Here’s hoping the TSA at Logan International can stop being evil and return to simply being useless.

[New York Times / Nature ]

 

Hola wonkerados.

To improve site performance, we did a thing. It could be up to three minutes before your comment appears. DON'T KEEP RETRYING, OKAY?

Also, if you are a new commenter, your comment may never appear. This is probably because we hate you.

{ 139 comments }

ChillBill August 13, 2012 at 9:29 am

You know who else relies entirely on Racial Profiling?

thatsitfortheother1 August 13, 2012 at 9:31 am

Mitt Romney.

At least his VP choice kinda looks that way.

weejee August 13, 2012 at 9:33 am

The dog whistle is strong in Mittens.

ManchuCandidate August 13, 2012 at 9:34 am

I'm betting he's regretting Paul Ryan now. He showed "emotion." Mitt does not know why Paul Ryan cries.

thatsitfortheother1 August 13, 2012 at 9:39 am

Ryan just might be the only thing standing between Mittenz and a rather nasty floor fight at their convention.

Unfortunately.

ChillBill August 13, 2012 at 9:42 am

Give him some credit; at least he considered the possibility of perhaps adding Condi Rice to the bottom of his VP choices.

thatsitfortheother1 August 13, 2012 at 9:52 am

Only after W told him what a freak she is.

metamarcisf August 13, 2012 at 9:34 am

The NBA?

WIDTAP August 13, 2012 at 9:39 am

Nascar?

Baconzgood August 13, 2012 at 9:48 am

NYPD?

RadioBowels August 13, 2012 at 9:48 am

Management gurus?

BaldarTFlagass August 13, 2012 at 10:07 am

Them cops that beat up Rodney King?

mrpuma2u August 13, 2012 at 10:29 am

Paul Ryan's office manager?

not that Dewey August 13, 2012 at 10:46 am

Gregor Mendel?

Doktor Zoom August 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Har! My brain skipped right over "Mendel" and went straight to "Samsa."

I need more coffee.

not that Dewey August 13, 2012 at 12:18 pm

That's understandable. I see Gregor Samsa everywhere.

Biel_ze_Bubba August 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Have you tried boric acid?

swordfis August 13, 2012 at 7:02 pm

win

Biel_ze_Bubba August 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm

The KKK. (I read it somewhere.)

imissopus August 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm

George Zimmerman?

Terry August 13, 2012 at 9:29 am

Boston is really a beautiful city in a lot of ways, but it certainly is home to a lot of pure D assholes. Bostonians found a way to make the TSA even worse.

freakishlywrong August 13, 2012 at 9:35 am

Massholes.

Millennial Malaise August 13, 2012 at 10:23 am

I don't hate Boston, but I know I couldn't live there. Since I'm a nerd, I did find enjoyment in the freedom walk and all that colonial mess. But Boston is entirely too white and too cold. The Charles River might as well be Satan's piss stream for how cold it gets.

Terry August 13, 2012 at 10:40 am

Socially, it reminds me of New Orleans. Very specific and rigid social strata. The history is great. No Name Seafood is amazing. I love the old look of the place. But as soon as I feel a true affection developing, someone does something to squash it.

tessiee August 13, 2012 at 11:09 am

Boston is where I had the best eggplant parmigian ever. Apparently, the secret is to get thin, even slices and…
oops, secret's out, I guess.

Biff August 13, 2012 at 11:33 am

Also, 2nd Massachusetts Militia Regiment.

From one of the shows I watch instead of the show Mom wrote about this morning on the channel I do not get…

ChernobylSoup August 13, 2012 at 9:30 am

Here's an idea: Tell the agents (and their counterparts in Immigration) that illegal drugs are not their concern and that they should only focus on bombs.

thatsitfortheother1 August 13, 2012 at 9:35 am

Those Pay to Play prisons are not going to fill themselves, Chernobyl.

ttommyunger August 13, 2012 at 9:31 am

….just be glad you don't have to do that job to keep your family in hobo beans. I'd rather be in Hell with a broken back than do that job with that managerial mindset.

Chow Yun Flat August 13, 2012 at 10:52 am

No kidding. Everyone you deal with hates you and your bosses come up with more stuff to make them hate you even more.

ttommyunger August 13, 2012 at 10:57 am

“Going TSA” will soon be the 21st Century “Going Postal”.

tessiee August 13, 2012 at 11:12 am

"I'd rather be in Hell with a broken back"

Nice.
I'd heard it as "run through Hell in gasoline underpants", but as a former sufferer of chronic back problems (thank you, acupuncture!), I can appreciate yours, too.

BerkeleyBear August 13, 2012 at 11:44 am

If you think about it, though, there is some freedom in knowing that everyone you run into is predisposed to hate you, no matter what you do. At least you don't have to do the fake enthusiasm crap retail is all about.

viennawoods13 August 13, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I know teachers like that.

ManchuCandidate August 13, 2012 at 9:31 am

I guess we can profile TSA managers as unimaginative, junk grabby, boob touching humiliation loving sadists.

As for Six fucking Sigma. It is a fucking joke when put into a non manufacturing context. The only thing I've learned is that someone with an MBA AND Six Sigma Black Belt is the perfect managerial motherfucker.

ChernobylSoup August 13, 2012 at 9:35 am

That remark is 99.9996% accurate.

ManchuCandidate August 13, 2012 at 9:38 am

I see what you did there…

Monsieur_Grumpe August 13, 2012 at 9:36 am

I'm with you on Sux Sigma. Seems to me it’s just a crutch for those who are easily overwhelmed by the development and manufacturing process.

ManchuCandidate August 13, 2012 at 9:42 am

This is coming from someone who advocated it at one place of work. It doesn't apply to everything despite what a typical Sux Smegma GE Black Belt believes.

ChernobylSoup August 13, 2012 at 10:05 am

You should see it when a government agency tries to apply Six Sigma to social programs. Fun all around.

ManchuCandidate August 13, 2012 at 10:15 am

Holy fucking Plutonium Jack! Be like trying to put skates on a cat… not that I've ever tried.

Goonemeritus August 13, 2012 at 10:07 am

Sometimes variance reduction just means you are consistently making crap.

ManchuCandidate August 13, 2012 at 10:15 am

Yup.

James Michael Curley August 13, 2012 at 11:50 am

I've been in a higher management job for years and no one ever was interested in adopting anything like this Six Segma stuff. We are much more traditional. To get the same results we use the old fashioned corporate technic called lying.

outragedcitizen August 13, 2012 at 10:03 am

I worked for a corporation that adapted Six Sigma, they no longer exist. Way to go, Sun Microsystems!

ManchuCandidate August 13, 2012 at 10:14 am

I worked at a customer of yours. Cost over 1/2 billion dollars and then they went into bankruptcy… so long Nortel.

TavariousChinaSmith August 13, 2012 at 10:56 am

And I lost a lot of money (but not a lot or even a small amount of money for Mitt Romney!) in Nortel stock. So the circle is unbroken.

viennawoods13 August 13, 2012 at 11:36 am

My father worked for Northern Electric (Northern Telecom, Nortel) starting in 1950, his entire career. He was lucky, retiring before it went tits up. However, my mother's survivor's pension is reduced because of what those assholes did to the company. Even worse, my cousin worked there for 20+ years, and when the bankruptcy hit, he lost his job, obviously, and got no severance, and no pension. After more than 20 years. Fuckers.

James Michael Curley August 13, 2012 at 11:56 am

I also knew a guy who got that results after almost twenty-five years at Nortel. Presently, when we changed offices and had some independent bozo come in and install a new phone system, we got a four line trunk system made by Alaya. They looked familiar and one day when I was messing in the phone cabinet with my network stuff I noticed the phone box Alaya label was a stick on. Sure enough, peeled it off and it said Nortel. So this bozo sold us a three or four year old system with brand new labels.

BerkeleyBear August 13, 2012 at 11:49 am

Yeah, between that and "continuous improvement" exercises ripped off from the Japanese, I think the entire goal of your average MBA is to never have an original thought, since they'd have to take responsibility for any of those.

And throw in that checklist manifesto stuff, too. I know it helps in certain situations (typically, where your first instinct is to rush and fuck up) but dumbing down the American workplace is pretty much how all the decent manufacturing jobs disappeared, since 12 year olds in China could do them just a well as a 40 year old American.

frostbitefalls August 13, 2012 at 9:31 am

They resorted to racial profiling after the Ouija board was lost.

blueflowers August 14, 2012 at 9:32 am

And only cause a Puerto Rican stole the Ouija board!

Gratuitous World August 13, 2012 at 9:31 am

those blahs annd mexicahs! always rapping and singing their narcocorridos about hijacking + plane mischief.

weejee August 13, 2012 at 9:32 am

The TSA workers had to go to the ACLU to get their whistles to toot, because inside the agency it was just dog whistle blowing.

ChernobylSoup August 13, 2012 at 9:33 am

If I was in charge of the ACLU and had unlimited resources (and that, kids, is how the world really should be), I would stand an ACLU rep with a camera, notebook, and cattle prod behind every TSA agent.

Baconzgood August 13, 2012 at 9:56 am

I'm more of a Bolt Stunner man myself.
http://compare.ebay.com/like/170875068241?_lwgsi=

proudgrampa August 13, 2012 at 11:43 am

Can you imagine working in a slaughterhouse, using that damn thing? It's humane, I guess but Jesus, it's enough to make me think about becoming a vegetarian.

Monsieur_Grumpe August 13, 2012 at 9:33 am

The obvious solution is to privatize anal cavity probing or as the Romney/Ryan ticket calls it Fiscal Reform.

ElPinche August 13, 2012 at 9:34 am

I look like a terrorist (bearded, dark, calm&collected (stoned)) . I get upset when I don't get profiled and get my nuts massaged by the TSA.

thatsitfortheother1 August 13, 2012 at 9:42 am

You've found the only reason to enjoy flying these days.

freakishlywrong August 13, 2012 at 9:37 am

Let's face it. They do this already. They're finally just admitting it. It's for "fiscal" purposes and will create jobs.

deanbooth August 13, 2012 at 9:38 am

Look, Ma, no cavities!

freakishlywrong August 13, 2012 at 9:53 am

That's due to all that butt flossing!

eggsacklywright August 13, 2012 at 10:23 am

TSA – at your cervix!

thatsitfortheother1 August 13, 2012 at 10:27 am

Now that's funny!

SoBeach August 13, 2012 at 9:43 am

I was actually put through this interrogation at Logan a couple of months ago. I was surprised at first, but it was immediately obvious what they were doing and what they were looking for. I just played along, pretending the cute TSA agent was really doing her job well so she'd look good for the boss who was watching.

thetimchannel August 13, 2012 at 9:44 am

Please don't go all "Fareed Zakaria" on me for the many future plagiarisms of "implementing Six Sigma" that are likely to result from my having glanced over this web post. Enjoy.

anniegetyerfun August 13, 2012 at 9:44 am

Behavior detection is commonly used in Israeli airports, where it is often a bit harder to be, like, "Well, THAT GUY has a dark complexion! We should search him!". From what I have heard, it seems to work well for them, but then again, I guess Israel probably wouldn't bother responding much to allegations of racism in their screening processes.

Doktor Zoom August 13, 2012 at 9:56 am

The big difference, as Bruce Schneier notes, is

the experience of the detecting officer and the amount of time they spend with each person… [the TSA approach is] supposed to "spot terrorists as they walk through a corridor," or possibly after a few questions. That's very different from what happens when you check into a flight an [sic] Ben Gurion Airport.

The problem with fast detection programs is that they don't work, and the problem with the Israeli security model is that it doesn't scale.

anniegetyerfun August 13, 2012 at 10:25 am

Thank you for reading so I don't have to.

Guppy August 13, 2012 at 11:14 am

me too

TavariousChinaSmith August 13, 2012 at 11:03 am

And it also may rely on (or get an assist from) racial profiling.

Steverino247 August 13, 2012 at 9:45 am

Yes, the ever alert Boston TSA guys. They sent my wife through the porno scanner (and didn't even let me watch the video, the bastards) and let me walk through the old device. Then, they alerted on the two bottles of Vermont maple syrup my wife forgot were "oversized" for the system. Instead of making a judgment call and letting her go with a reminder about restrictions BECAUSE IT WAS OBVIOUSLY FUCKING MAPLE SYRUP they gave her the choice of checking the bag or throwing the syrup away. Since she was already in the running for Playmate of the Month for July, she chose not to go through "security" again and the bottles of syrup were not delivered to their intended recipients, the grandmother and brother of a disabled Iraq veteran..

cheetojeebus August 13, 2012 at 9:58 am

i bet that within an hour some 'agents' were dipping donuts in some delicious Vermont Syrup.

outragedcitizen August 13, 2012 at 10:09 am

Makes you proud to be an America, don't it? Who needs all those stupid Freedumz?

mrpuma2u August 13, 2012 at 10:38 am

But freedumz wuz saved. Your maple syrup adds to all the sacrifices made by other patriots, like little old ladies who had their coffee dumped, or mothers who had their baby formula seized (that stuff has a high resale value, why do think the TSA agents took it?) It SHOULD make you proud to be an uh-MEHR-kin.

TavariousChinaSmith August 13, 2012 at 11:07 am

My mother scored some free homemade strawberry jam when she saw me off at the Green Bay airport because the woman ahead of me in the security line was trying to take some to her relatives and ended up having to give them away so they wouldn't end up in the garbage.

TSA: keeping America safe from Maple Syrup and Strawberry jam since 2006!

Guppy August 13, 2012 at 11:15 am

they gave her the choice of checking the bag or throwing the syrup away.

The USPS could probably make up their "shortfall" with some conveniently-placed Priority Mail flat rate boxes.

And how do Express Mail rates compare to bag check fees?

tessiee August 13, 2012 at 11:27 am

"Instead of making a judgment call and letting her go with a reminder about restrictions BECAUSE IT WAS OBVIOUSLY FUCKING MAPLE SYRUP they gave her the choice of checking the bag or throwing the syrup away."

This is like when I worked as a chef, and every so often, the waitstaff would cut a piece of hazelnut cheesecake crooked. Oops! Now we can't sell it and have to eat it! Oopsie!

Biel_ze_Bubba August 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm

I threw my contact lens cleaner into a bag at the last minute, forgetting that it was my carry-on. Of course TSA pounced on 16 ounces of mysterious deadly liquid, and as they were studying it, I realized, "Oh shit … it's hydrogen peroxide." Sure enough, out came the testing kit, which "detected" that highly alarming fact.

The label says it's peroxide, of course, but that just makes it a candidate for The Purloined Letter trick, so it was off to the races, as they ran though their whole "we found bomb materials" script. (Call in more people,who do more tests, which cause them to call in more people with more tests, until eventually they drag out somebody with sufficient brains and authority (if TSA has colonels, it would have been at least a colonel) to say, "Meh, it's contact lens solution' and throw away $12 worth of the stuff.

I realize that these folks are bored to death with a sucky job, so I took the attitude of "hey, I'm making their day." That, plus the fact that I had an hour to kill, made the whole security theatre presentation tolerably entertaining. Not having "cavity search candidate" brown skin probably helped in the tolerability department.

Baconzgood August 13, 2012 at 9:45 am

Here's a funny thing. If you are a terriorist you can get a job as a janitor or thrower and get into any place in the airport. It's the illusion of safety.

Goonemeritus August 13, 2012 at 9:49 am

If you’re looking for someone with strong antisocial tendencies why wouldn’t you just pull aside anyone wearing Red Sox’s hats?

DahBoner August 13, 2012 at 10:14 am

In Boston, too many of 'em…

tessiee August 13, 2012 at 11:29 am

??

I'm the anti-sports fan, so I may not have this exactly right, but I thought NY Yankees hat = antisocial, and Red Sox hat = loser.

James Michael Curley August 13, 2012 at 12:03 pm

I'm a Yankee fan. I an't anti-social. If youse give me mo crap aboutit you'll learn why those two cement blocks over there lace up.

tessiee August 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Yo, Uncle Garlic!
Is dat youse?
Sup?

Biel_ze_Bubba August 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm

So, which cap would a muslin terrist choose? Surely the TSA has a profile…

freakishlywrong August 13, 2012 at 9:52 am

One of my favorite literary quotes of all time is; "the joys of traveling are more or less fictitious". I think it was Zelda Fitzgerald.

BigSkullF*ckingDog August 13, 2012 at 9:52 am

"Implementing Sex Sigma" my new porno name for today. Oh, and it will involve cavity searches as well.

thatsitfortheother1 August 13, 2012 at 10:01 am

Probe Oscis.

BoatOfVelociraptors August 13, 2012 at 10:38 am

Cavity Searches and Six Smegma. Sounds kinda dirty!

MacRaith August 13, 2012 at 10:00 am

Well, that's the whole point to the TSA, isn't it? It's not to make us safer (it doesn't), but to give politicians some cover. "Look at all we're doing to stop terrorists! It's what you demanded, and we're doing it!" Sure, it's a joke, and the people running the system know that better than anyone else.

Baconzgood August 13, 2012 at 10:02 am

That can't be a real fucking book man. If it is, I NEED A COPY.

Doktor Zoom August 13, 2012 at 10:44 am

C'est satirique: http://mojito.over-blog.net/article-20125009.html

Artist's comment, translated: " I know, it has the subtlety of an Israeli bulldozer in a china shop"

Oblios_Cap August 13, 2012 at 10:04 am

Someone I was reading referred to the TSA as "Security Theater". That's a fitting moniker for those worthless and iirritating jerks.

Zepster August 13, 2012 at 10:24 am

And you can play a major role, just bend over and they'll drive.

Doktor Zoom August 13, 2012 at 10:47 am

The term was coined by Bruce Schneier, whose blog is outstanding. In a better world, he'd be Homeland Security Secretary.

BaldarTFlagass August 13, 2012 at 10:04 am

Just another reason why I'm flying into and out of Tom Green in Providence when I make the pilgrimage to the ancestral homeland this month.

Spurning Beer August 13, 2012 at 10:13 am

T. F. Green is a pleasure to pass through. And I bought a Dell's Frozen Lemonade dry mix package my last time there, which wasn't bad.

BaldarTFlagass August 13, 2012 at 10:19 am

Not having to worry about the freeway tunnels collapsing
on you when you drive out in your rental car is another plus.

Spurning Beer August 13, 2012 at 10:26 am

Yup, that's something I look for in an airport.

proudgrampa August 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm

"I'm flying into and out of Tom Green"

And just what does Tom have to say about that???

SorosBot August 13, 2012 at 10:06 am

But it must have worked, considering all the terrorist attacks they've managed to prevent! I mean it's not like terrorist attacks on planes are actually really, really rare, and that the handful of attempts that have been made since 9/11 were by idiots easily stopped by other passengers or anything.

PsycWench August 13, 2012 at 10:09 am

"Like a weapons system that doesn’t really shoot down enemy planes, the program becomes a self-justifying expense, because it might work, and there’s a lot of people whose living depends on it continuing."

I seem to remember a similar argument to justify waterboarding.

bobbert August 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm

"Like a weapons system that doesn’t really shoot down enemy planes the War on Drugs, the program becomes a self-justifying expense, because it might work, and there’s a lot of people whose living depends on it continuing."

DahBoner August 13, 2012 at 10:13 am

I haven't flown in awhile, and kinda miss the groping.

It's the only action I've got lately…

Guppy August 13, 2012 at 11:20 am

That reminds me: I need a haircut, and hopefully I'll get the woman who occasionally brushes up against me again.

(What restraining order?)

RadioBowels August 13, 2012 at 10:21 am

just like any employees in an organization that’s had the latest managerial fad foisted on them, they had to take a ridiculous system’s unrealistic assumptions about the world and apply them in a real-world workplace.

Thanks for that Dok.

MissNancyPriss August 13, 2012 at 10:21 am

I dunno, I'm a bland looking white person with glasses and get pulled out for secondary inspection 99% of the time.

bobbert August 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Is it the "If I wanted the government in my vagina…" T-shirt, do you think?

Spurning Beer August 13, 2012 at 10:23 am

Whenever I fly, I tape an aluminum foil cut-out of a grenade to my chest, insert a Mounds Bar in my rectum, and make intense eye contact with TSA employees. That's just the way I roll.

TavariousChinaSmith August 13, 2012 at 11:08 am

All perfectly legal! Just don't try taking a bottle of water with you.

swordfis August 13, 2012 at 7:08 pm

I just laughed myself sick

CthuNHu August 13, 2012 at 10:24 am

Two by two, hands of blue.

mrpuma2u August 13, 2012 at 10:42 am

Hooray, firefly reference!!!!!!!! I give 1125 virtual upfists.

sbj1964 August 13, 2012 at 10:27 am

The TSA will have they're work cut out for them with all the metal detectors being set off by American Olympic Gold,Silver,and Bronze! USA,USA,USA! Profile that TSA.

bobbert August 13, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Remember the old guy they detained because they couldn't figure out what to do with his Medal of Honor?

eggsacklywright August 13, 2012 at 10:28 am

The right profile – "that's Montgomery Clift, honey."

Maman August 13, 2012 at 10:36 am

Ugh. Any suggestions about how to avoid being assaulted by TSA this weekend? I have already been informed that I should wear loafers with socks and no belt. Now the question is sports bra and look like a giant lump, or any other kind of bra that will have enough metal in it to get me "randomly" selected. FML

proudgrampa August 13, 2012 at 11:55 am

Instead of loafers, wear flipflops. Can't advise on the sports bra, as I don't have any experience with that…

Or just skip the whole thing and drive to your destination.

Be safe!

Love,
proudgrampa

fuflans August 13, 2012 at 10:36 am

dr zoom i am very fond of your columns and writing but today i do not think i can read six paragraphs about the tsa.

it's almost like you think we have active brain cells or something.

Local_Mojo August 13, 2012 at 10:36 am

Great job TSA! (Now can my son have his iPod back?)

BZ1 August 13, 2012 at 10:42 am

Since I worked in the aviation industry, I am long past being surprised about anything that goes on there …

proudgrampa August 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm

I don't understand the aviation industry.

not that Dewey August 13, 2012 at 10:48 am

I'm a people person, dammit!

Chow Yun Flat August 13, 2012 at 10:50 am

They just pull aside anyone who they don’t like the way they look — if they are black and have expensive clothes or jewelry, or if they are Hispanic

So, black people who look successful and everyone who is "Hispanic" which probably stretches to cover everyone else who isn't white.

sufferinsuccotash August 13, 2012 at 11:03 am

Give people a numerical quota to meet and they will meet it one way or another, usually the "another".
See the NCLB testing programs…

tessiee August 13, 2012 at 11:17 am

Needz moar Derek Smalls with cucumber.

tessiee August 13, 2012 at 11:21 am

"So, like plenty of office workers who just smile and say they’re “implementing Six Sigma,” a bunch of Boston TSA agents basically made things up and said, sure, we’re following the program. Unfortunately, in this case, the innovation was a TSA program to identify"

thank goodness the fad for ISO 9000 is over, or they'd all be sticking little metal ID number tags on everybody's asses.

James Michael Curley August 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm

You mean the guy who said I to have the UPC-A code tattooed on my ass was lying?

HistoriCat August 13, 2012 at 11:23 am

"Gentlemen – we have to do something to protect our phoney-baloney government jobs! Harumph! Harumph!"

Biff August 13, 2012 at 11:50 am

I didn't get a harumph outta that guy!

tessiee August 13, 2012 at 11:39 am

Jerry Seinfeld is kind of a douche, but his bit about airport security is pretty funny:

"I love airports. Feel safe in the airports thanks to the high caliber individuals we have working at X-ray security.
How 'bout this crack squad of savvy motivated personnel?
The way you wanna setup your airport's security, is you want the short, heavy set women at the front with the skin tight uniform.
That's your first line of defense.
You want those pants so tight the flap in front of the zipper has pulled itself open, you can see the metal tangs hanging on for dear life.
Then you put the bag on the conveyor belt. It goes through the little luggage car wash.
Then you have the other genius, down at the other end, looking at the little X-ray TV screen.
This Eistein was chosen to stand in front of X-rays 14 hours a day.
It's his profession.
Looking in that thing…
I have looked in that TV screen. I cannot make out one object."

Beowoof August 13, 2012 at 11:58 am

This is all interesting but it can't beat the Miami story.

proudgrampa August 13, 2012 at 11:59 am

Well, we can be thankful that we don't live in Australia:
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/travel/travel-inc

owhatever August 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I refuse to fly without first getting a full body patdown and cavity search. It ain't much, but you don't have to buy them dinner.

imissopus August 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm

avoiding eye contact, sweating or fidgeting,

Shit, I've had first dates like that. Usually didn't lead to second dates.

sati_demise August 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm

well well well, there is a new kind of porno scanner- not the big blue screen- that has a sign saying "No death by radiation' (sic).

I do not believe this sign so went for the grope as usual. now I have to try and land in Phoenix in 118 degree heat. what could possibly go wrong?

Fisher1949 August 13, 2012 at 8:56 pm

This is the third time that the few remaining decent TSA workers have exposed TSA management for these illegal profiling schemes. These front line TSA screeners have also spoken out against the corrupt management that is forcing them to engage in this sick circus. They know as well as anyone else that groping a six year old and strip searching Grandma doesn’t keep anyone safe and only hands another victory to Al Qaeda.

There is plenty of evidence, including these three profiling incidents and the mass firings of screeners in Ft. Myers, Hawaii and Ft Lauderdale, that much of TSA management has become populated with perverse and corrupt people and no one is a better witness to this than the TSA workers who expose these managers. If this is not stopped at this point the decent screeners who dislike being ordered to grope and humiliate passengers needlessly will quit and the thugs managing the agency will fill their ranks with abusive bullies. At that point security will become unbearable and America will be in very bad place.

The behavior detection program has been shown to be hocus-pocus used to conceal a drug interdiction scheme. Is anyone really stupid enough to believe that TSA can train a fast food worker to read minds in six weeks?

This is the third major incident in this program in a year involving racial profiling and harassment, illegal interrogations and unlawful searches and there have been others that received less exposure. TSA investigated themselves in the incidents in Newark and Hawaii and found they were innocent. No one was fired or prosecuted for their illegal searches and harassment of innocent people. What a surprise.

Where does this stupidity stop?

In the past two months 35 TSA workers fired or arrested and 66 more disciplined for misconduct on the job. A known pedophile, Thomas Harkins, was exposed in May but remains employed as a TSA Supervisor in Philadelphia. There were a total of 97 TSA workers arrested in the last 20 months including 12 arrested for child sex crimes, over 26 for theft, 12 for smuggling contraband through security and one for murder.

This is precisely the problem with TSA, no accountability when they exceed their authority and those in management are never fired. Even police are subject to prosecution by victims. Not so for TSA employees and this must change.

The TSA management and screeners responsible for this illegal activity should be prosecuted and the agency sued for billions.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: