TSA Agents Caught Stealing From Passengers & Helping Subordinates Steal As Well

from the feeling-safer? dept

jsl4980 alerts us to a TSA supervisor who has now admitted to regularly stealing from passengers at his security checkpoint at Newark airport. Not only that, but at least one subordinate also stole from passengers, and the supervisor knew about it -- just requiring a kickback of some of the stolen loot to keep quiet. Over the course of about a year, they stole somewhere between $10,000 and $30,000 from passengers. Feeling safer about flying yet?

And, it turns out that's not the only such situation. Another article points out that some TSA agents at nearby JFK airport were able to steal approximately $160,000, including $39,000 from a single passenger. Nice to see that these are the people supposedly "protecting" us from those who wish to do us harm...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 6:41am

    As the old saying goes

    Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

     

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  2.  
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    Torinir (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 6:50am

    Stay classy, TSA.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 6:52am

    I have to say this sort of story shows the contradictory nature of the Mike's points of view.

    A few bad actors work for the TSA, so let's get rid of the TSA, they are bad. 90% of torrent traffic is pirated material, but torrents are good.

    Mike, there are bad actors in almost every thing in life. The TSA has over 58,000 employees. You honestly don't think a few bad apples get mixed into the bunch?

     

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  4.  
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    Matt (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 6:52am

    To quote the Gipper "The ten most dangerous words in the English language are 'Hi, I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.'"

     

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  5.  
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    Brian Schroth (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 6:55am

    Re:

    Yeah, and to prove it to us, he expanded the government even further!

     

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  6.  
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    hangman, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 6:59am

    TSA

    and all us H O N E S T people(out of work/unable to find a descent job) are SOL!!!!!!!!(as usual)

     

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  7.  
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    Jay (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 7:03am

    Re:

    Let's see...

    You have security that asks you to take off your belt, shoes and clothes in a scanner that can cause cancer risk to increase.

    You have people grope you because it's standard policy...

    They can have police come in and take you away from a flight for no other reason than saying no...

    Now you have confirmed data that they can steal your items?

    Have you not realized that the temptation of abuse of power is greatly increased through these actions? Or is it all because of some weird fantasy to be against personal freedom?

     

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  8.  
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    Matthew (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 7:04am

    Re:

    Anonymous Coward: check.
    Saying that Mike said something that he did not say: check.
    Making up statistics: check.
    Comparing apples and oranges: check.

    Astroturf Detected. Ignoring in 3...2...1.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 7:18am

    Re:

    Yes, let's ignore the fact that TSA was given special powers to PROTECT people, and clearly abused those powers and the fact that Bittorrent is a communication protocol that is pretty much neutral: You can use it for any type of communication.

    If I ignore that, and also apply a brick to my forehead, I think I might start seeing your point. But I'm gonna need a lot of booze to be able to absorb all the specifics.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymouse, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 7:20am

    Who is watching the watchers lol

     

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  11.  
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    scarr (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 7:25am

    Checks in front of people

    I remember a time when if security opened your bag, they did it in front of you. You could see everything they did, and they could watch you, if they were clever enough to see if something made you nervous. That means you could make sure they didn't steal anything, and also that anything that was carefully packed for protection remained that way.

    While the theft is disturbing, I'm curious how much stuff gets damaged by TSA hastily rifling through a suitcase, then not bothering to put things back properly.

     

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  12.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 7:27am

    Re: Re:

    >>Yes, let's ignore the fact that TSA was given special powers to PROTECT people,

    The issue is that most of what they are doing does not protect people. And all to often those "special powers" are being used to the detriment of the people they are supposed to be trying to protect.

     

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  13.  
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    Benjamin, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 7:29am

    Seriously?

    I'm a big lurker here, and I'm moved to suggest that this post just be deleted. It offers very little beyond drawing very global conclusions about a few incidents. Lots of people steal. Lots of people who work for the government steal. Some police officers steal. Should we go ahead and get rid of police? The US armed forces are facing a problem with sexual assault. Should we go ahead and assume that everyone in uniform is corrupt?

    I love Techdirt. This post is just bitter sounding, and not up to the usual standard.

     

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  14.  
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    Hiiragi Kagami (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 7:34am

    Re:

    "90% of torrent traffic is pirated material, but torrents are good."
    Torrents don't take nude pictures of me, grope little girls, or "scatter" me with isotopes which make rocks glow in the real world.

    If there's a comparison here, TSA is clearly the loser.

    Oh, and torrents don't take money, either.
    >:)

     

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  15.  
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    dev, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 7:37am

    bribed

    so how much would I have to bribe to allow in my bottle of water. If they aren't above stealing, I'm sure they aren't above being bribed.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 7:38am

    Re: Re:

    Yeah, they are just used to distribute nude pictures of groped little girls in files named "isotopes.jpeg".

    Congrats to the winners.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 7:47am

    Re: Seriously?

    >> Should we go ahead and assume that everyone in uniform is corrupt?

    It seems the government uses this logic, so why not? I mean out of the millions of airplane passengers every year only a small handful are terrorists, yet TSA, et al. treat all passengers as potential terrorists, right?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 7:55am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Pictures taken and put on the Internet by TSA employees no less =)

     

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  19.  
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    Michael, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 7:57am

    Re:

    Uh yeah except these people are actually STEALING something, not making a copy. There is actual tangible loss here.

     

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  20.  
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    Michael, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:01am

    Re: Seriously?

    Not get rid of, but scale back by at least half. End the so called "war on drugs" and end ridiculous expenditures for "security" that does nothing to make anyone any more secure.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: Seriously?

    The government uses the logic of "we don't know, so we need to check". That isn't the same as assuming everyone is guilty, they assume everyone is an unknown that needs to be dealt with on an individual basis.

    It is easy to get caught up in all the hype and hoopla going on around this, and to fall victim of the catch phrases and snarky attacks on the TSA, but they are doing a job that is both important and useful.

    Without them, I doubt very many Americans would consider flying safe enough.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    Then we need to use a "we don't know, so we need to check" point of view as well.

    Mandatory pat downs of all TSA employees as they leave their shift.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:17am

    I was really looking forward for DH and hephaestus' comments :(

     

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  24.  
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    Michael, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:17am

    Re: Seriously?

    "It offers very little beyond drawing very global conclusions about a few incidents"

    Umm...where are the conclusions? Beyond describing the specific incidents, I see two additional comments from Mike - neither of which makes any suggestion that we should get rid of the TSA. He asks if these incidents make you feel safer (do they?) and points out that these people are supposed to be protecting us.

    Now, I understand you read the post and think it targets the TSA to put the entire organization in a bad light. But it is not this post (which is almost entirely factual information and has no conclusions). It is the incident itself that is making the entire TSA look bad.

    Should we not report on any crimes unless they are perpetrated by more than some specific percentage of a group?

     

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  25.  
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    Michael, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:18am

    Re:

    Patience grasshopper.

     

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  26.  
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    Michael, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:22am

    Speaking of stealing...

    Hey! Copyright cops! If the scanner at the airport takes an image of something covered by copyright (which I believe most of you define as 'everything'), can they be sued?

    I saw recently (probably here) that someone was selling t-shirts and underwear with messages to the TSA in ink that would show up on the scanners. If the message is unique and expressive enough, have they violated copyright law by taking a picture of it?

    Sorry everyone for the total tangent.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:23am

    Re: Seriously?

    Some police officers steal. Should we go ahead and get rid of police? The US armed forces are facing a problem with sexual assault. Should we go ahead and assume that everyone in uniform is corrupt?



    why, yes, actually.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    You see? Now that is a useful suggestion. Perhaps the TSA employees should be treated to the same sort of inspection (in and out) of their work area, and not be allowed to carry anything in or out of their work areas. Metal detectors, pat downs, etc.

    It is a useful suggesting, and thanks for making it. It adds a nice dimension to the discussion that few seem to consider.

     

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  29.  
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    xenomancer (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:38am

    Re: Checks in front of people

    Well, I've had them open a plastic bag I put my shampoo in (specifically so it would NOT get everywhere) and place the shampoo back in the suitcase on the opposite end. Needless to say I had to rinse all of my very well scrubbed clothes and skiing gear when I got to the hotel. I was not the least bit pleased.

     

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  30.  
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    velox (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    "The government uses the logic of "we don't know, so we need to check". That isn't the same as assuming everyone is guilty, they assume everyone is an unknown that needs to be dealt with on an individual basis."
    By this logic, the 4th Amendment is completely negated.
    Couldn't the government always say under any circumstance "We don't know. We're just doing this little search to check."

     

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  31.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    I would bet that if you did a poll right now as to who felt safer flying now as compared to before the TSA was given supreme power, you would find that there was little change and if there was a change it was more people feel less safe flying now than they did, not because of terrorists but because of the violation of personal space and privacy at the gates because people who are hired because they can breath and speak in some form of English.

     

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  32.  
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    infowars, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:46am

    39k?

    Well, at least you get your balls grabbed for that price.. Now if we could just work out that happy ending things might not be so bad.

     

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  33.  
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    Mike C. (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:49am

    Re: Seriously?

    If you've lurked here for a while, you should realize that what many of us have been looking for is better oversight.

    The real problem isn't that TSA agents are stealing. That's bound to happen. The problem is that they can get away with it for so long before being caught. There is little to no oversight and a virtually non-existent ability to complain about potential "bad actors" without missing your flight and possibly getting arrested. As scarr mentioned above, bag inspections should be done in front of the passenger. I also think independent evaluation of screening equipment should be performed by disinterested third parties and there needs to be a far better process in place for filing complaints.

    I don't think many of us are after disbanding as much as we are after accountability. The "feel safer yet" question could probably be better phrased as "Since the TSA doesn't think they're doing anything wrong and won't allow oversight, do you really feel safer flying than you did before the TSA?"

     

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  34.  
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    Michael, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:52am

    Re: 39k?

    Excellent point.

    Have they been charged with prostitution?

     

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  35.  
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    Hai Kai, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:53am

    Terrorist

    Seriously... how long before someone figures out these corrupt SOB can be bought with money and use it for some harm. If they can steal enough, they can be bought off to let someone harmful pass through.

     

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  36.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    "I would bet that if you did a poll right now as to who felt safer flying now as compared to before the TSA was given supreme power, you would find that there was little change"

    That's probably true....but cares? Honestly, if the way to measure any success of the TSA is by how safe people FEEL, then that should tell you everything you know. Every time I hear a politician talk on TV about how people want to feel safe, I want to find that person and slap them.

    I couldn't care less how people feel. I care how safe they ARE. This is why the TSA should be subject to measurable review. If you can't demonstrably prove that what you're doing is working, you must stop doing it....

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    Honestly, if the way to measure any success of the TSA is by how safe people FEEL, then that should tell you everything you know.

    Actually, isn't the the most effective tool against terrorism, removing the "terror" part? If people feel less afraid, are they not less the victim of terrorism?

    Remember, terrorism isn't just actual bombs blowing up or actual people dying or being hurt, but rather the fear that you are next. Anything that works to lower that level of fear and return the Western world to a more normal state of affairs is a victory over the horrible effects of terrorism.

     

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  38.  
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    MRK, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 8:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    The problem with the TSA is not that they are doing security checks.

    The problem is there is no public oversight, they focus on protecting us from irrational Hollywood terrorism plots, there is very little emphasis on real security, and if you question their methods, you get your name on a secret watch list.

    Again, I have nothing against security measures, I oppose the security theater the DHS insists on performing.

     

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  39.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    "Actually, isn't the the most effective tool against terrorism, removing the "terror" part? If people feel less afraid, are they not less the victim of terrorism?"

    Fair question, but then you tackle the problem by getting people to wake up and realize that things aren't as dangerous as they're pretending them to be. You don't feed into the fear by putting in place lame false security. Do you really think the presence of all this security equipment makes people feel MORE safe? It's justification for their fears, not the removal of them.

    Honestly, I'd LOVE to see a study about the heartbeat rate of people going through the airport when they encounter security. I'd bet it goes way up....

    "Remember, terrorism isn't just actual bombs blowing up or actual people dying or being hurt, but rather the fear that you are next. Anything that works to lower that level of fear and return the Western world to a more normal state of affairs is a victory over the horrible effects of terrorism."

    But that's the thing, we aren't returning to normal, we're moving to something new and strange. What the TSA is doing now isn't SOP, therefore it's an inch in the terrorist's favor....

     

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  40.  
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    velox (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    "Anything that works to lower that level of fear and return the Western world to a more normal state of affairs is a victory over the horrible effects of terrorism."
    Since when is what the TSA is doing a "normal state of affairs"

    Wouldn't the most appropriate "normal state of affairs" be resolutely continuing to respect citizen's freedoms.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:05am

    Re:

    Go fuck yourself TSA.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:06am

    >>Yes, let's ignore the fact that TSA was given special powers to PROTECT people,


    Who guards us from the guards?

     

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  43.  
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    Jj, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:07am

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Feb 17th, 2011 @ 6:52am

    You must work for the TSA. Lol

     

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  44.  
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    C-Troy, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    Actually consider things before the TSA and after, what changed?

    Guards/Security - Check
    Metal Detectors - Check
    Screening - Check
    Police - Check

    So what has the TSA really added, expect 58,000 people on the government rolls...

    Its a serious question - how has the TSA done one thing that is better/smarter/faster/safer than it was being done before with out the added cost to government at 58,000 employees/soon-to-be union workers...

    Just like the argument for the back-scatter - it would have stopped the underwear bomber - but if you look at the facts it would not have done 1 thing - WHY - the underwear bomber was flying TO America so he didn't go through the TSA anyway...


    I am all for things that work, do things better/cheaper/faster and/or efficient - but so far all i can find with the TSA is a pit of bureaucracy that sucks more and more money from the tax payers, and causes headaches with traveler not terrorists....

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:23am

    Re: Re:

    Mike routinely refers to the work of the TSA as "security theater" and questions their actions at every turn. He doubts that they are effective, he doubts they do any good, and he feels they are a waste of time, effort, and money.

    The stats are not made up. You fail again.

    I think for your post more as a question of: "ignore the message, slam the poster in 3...2...1..."

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    Actually, when you want to enter a secured area of the airport, your 4th amendment rights tend to be somewhat diminished as you make the request to enter. There is a presumption that they have no idea if you are good or bad, and must make certain. There is no "free pass" in the system.

    To violate your 4th amendment rights would require something like handcuffing you, taking you to an interrogation room, locking you there for 48 hours without charge, and then refusing you entry without reason. Until things head down towards that direction, your 4th amendment rights aren't in danger, except perhaps from your own hyperbole.

     

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  47.  
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    Tech Guy in IN, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:30am

    "Remember, terrorism isn't just actual bombs blowing up or actual people dying or being hurt, but rather the fear that you are next. Anything that works to lower that level of fear and return the Western world to a more normal state of affairs is a victory over the horrible effects of terrorism."

    That is only partly true. If the fear changes your way of life they also win.

    The TSA is a blatant violation of the 4th amendment and should be abolished! What should happen is Airports and Airlines should be REQUIRED to HIRE security companies to handle matters of security both on board and at the airport. This would be legal, since the airline can say want to fly you need to meet these conditions, so it is not the government doing search and seizure. It may seem a small point but our forefathers were far smarter than people give them credit for.

    The terrorists have already learned that now that the American people know they are going to die if terrorists are allowed to control the plane the passengers will take it down themselves. They have little interest in attacking planes, they are much more interested in poisoning your drinking water, food supply, or drugs maybe setting off a "Dirty Bomb" on US soil.

    You may recall the recent rash of food and drug contamination? Do you really think that many in that short of a time period were by chance? (I think not, it was testing for something bigger to come).

    Now go ahead and tell me to put on my tin hat.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    But that's the thing, we aren't returning to normal, we're moving to something new and strange. What the TSA is doing now isn't SOP, therefore it's an inch in the terrorist's favor...

    The alternative, nobody flying, is way more than an inch in their favor.

    Remember 9/11? Do you remember all those planes grounded? All those people stranded? I do. I got trapped in Vegas, not so bad, I guess. That was more than an inch. That was a mile.

    Poeple too scared to fly would be way more than an inch, it would be a football field.

    The TSA "inch" is way better than the alternatives, and the public knows and understands it.

     

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  49.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:38am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I think you misread the above comment. He was replying to the AC who compared a minority of bad actors in the TSA to the supposed minority of good actors on BitTorrent, and explaining why the two aren't the same and the TSA should be held to a much higher standard. I don't think he was asserting that they are actually succeeding in upholding that standard.

     

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  50.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    Noooo... If terrorism is just about making someone afraid, then Glen Beck and Fox News are the biggest terrorists in the world. Glen Beck makes me afraid every time I hear a clip, because it's down right scary that there are people out there stupid enough to believe his bullspit. Osama Bin Laden doesn't really scare me...Terrorists flying a plane into the WTC did. The possibility of harm doesn't scare me, because I'm smart enough to realize there is an equal possibility of no harm. It's Fox News' assertions that this danger is inevitable or right around the corner and there's no protection from liberals, and the fact that idiots out there believe it, that scares me.

     

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  51.  
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    Benjamin (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:49am

    RERERERE....Seriously?

    While I recognize that the piece is presented without a specific statement that the TSA is inherently useless or should be abolished *because of these incidents,* I do recognize (and agree with) the theme on this blog of criticism of the TSA and it's "security theater." Typically, Techdirt will publish much more relevant reasons for this criticism, which involve violations of civil rights, misrepresentation of fact, and safety concerns. This post does not fall into those categories.

    When a journalist or blogger chooses to report on a story, he or she has already made a judgment call that the story is relevant. Because of the established theme of Techdirt, and because of its normally high standards when issues of the TSA's policies and procedures are discussed, I feel strongly that the inference is clear: a couple of underpaid TSA agents stealing from passengers is evidence sufficient quality and relevance to include with the more substantial arguments.

    I simply feel differently. I feel that we should hold ourselves to higher standards of debate. These stealing incidents are isolated, and unless someone is going to make a claim that they represent the consequences of TSA policy, they are not worth including in what is otherwise a very solid and intellectually honest debate.

     

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  52.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:49am

    The Potential for Massive Corruption in the TSA

    Read Peter Maas's Serpico (1973), a biography of former New York policeman Frank Serpico, an honest cop who did the one unforgivable thing-- turning in crooked cops. One thing you should take away is the notion of a "pad," an organized crime family overlayered on the police department, so that the policemen are the family soldiers, the sergeants and lieutenants are the capo-regimes, and the captain or inspector is the godfather. A pad protects itself by programmatically driving out honest cops, sometimes by assassination, and feeds money by kickbacks up to the top of the organization. Pads have been traditionally confined to "vice" squads, but for a while the Chicago police department had a home-burglary ring going (see Mike Royko's _Boss_, 1971). With the rise of the War on Drugs, much police corruption was diverted to this semi-legal channel. In many cases in which innocent bystanders are killed in drug raids, the facts would support a charge of aggravated murder, because the circumstances do not materially differ from shootings committed by robbers during stick-ups.

    If the TSA begins to develop layers of baggage-stealing and kickbacks, this has the potential to spread, to the point that the TSA officer in charge of a major airport would be pulling down millions of dollars a year in kickbacks, and becoming personally wealthy in a short period of time. The TSA mob will become massively impervious to criticism, to the point that the TSA agents will be openly taking small sums of cash from every passenger's wallet. Twenty dollars here, forty there, taking all fifty or hundred dollar bills as a matter of course.

     

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  53.  
    icon
    harbingerofdoom (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: Re:

    what isotopes.jpeg may look like:

    http://www.mickeysplace.com/images/Isotopes.JPEG

    (yes its safe for work)

     

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  54.  
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    keiichi969 (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    I do remember 9/11. And I can tell you right now that we could abolish the TSA right now, and it would never happen again.


    You look at the whole airport security and see that since TSA, we haven't had another hijacking. This is not because of the TSA.

    The real reason why hijacking will never occur, is because the passengers can no longer reach the cockpit.


    The bigger concern it that all this TSA security theater will cause passenger awareness to lax. That's the biggest threat to security.

    You "feel" safe, you you tend to ignore signs of danger. Everything is safe, right? TSA makes it so nothing bad can get on planes, right?

    Meanwhile people are boarding planes with handguns, or 12 inch razor blades.

    Wake up America. We need to take charge of our own security, not let the nanny-state tell us we're safe or not.

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Rob, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 10:38am

    Theft Opportunities

    The checked baggage searches, out of your view, definitely add a new world of opportunity for thievery. Used to be just the baggage handlers got in on the action. And you could lock your bag -- maybe even with a lock that was good enough to divert their attention to the next one. Now you can't lock your bag. Well, you can lock it, but only with a lock that is built with a universal master key. Which is almost the same thing as not locking it . . .

    But now checkpoint "opportunities" are greatly enhanced, too. Not just for "security" but anyone with enough nerve. Luggage is frequently out of view, particularly if you're being run through the naked scanner or grope-down. And even if you see your bag/coat/laptop getting pinched, if you take off to go kick ass and take names you're gonna get tackled and arrested and punished for [insert whatever crime they call it here].

    I went through an airport with my wife recently and got sent to the "enhanced" experience. I was basically detained (for all practical purposes) with all my carry-on stuff out of sight. And this is after being forced to empty all my pockets on the chance they wanted to take naked pics. So everything: luggage, computer, wallet, money, phone, etc. were just sitting there for the taking for about 5 minutes.

    Do did my stuff get stolen? No, because my wife was there, and got through much quicker and grabbed all my things. Was I relieved? Yes. Except when we both realized that nobody had stopped her from grabbing all my things and taking off. She had two coats, twice the amount of baggage you could carry on, a man's shoes, and no one so much as asked if all that stuff was hers.

    So the increasingly time-consuming, detaining and attention distracting nature of checkpoints is not just a bonus program for TSA employees, but the free-lance thieves among us as well.

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 10:39am

    Obviously we need a new government agency that makes sure the TSA employees are not stealing anything. They should have to go through the same scanning and groping as they dole out. Many of the TSA employees at Phoenix Sky Harbor appear to be previous employees of fast food chains. If you can't speak clear English and not use urban slang why in the world are you in charge of security at an airport. At least care about the public image you are projecting and hire people that act appropriately. Not ripping off the thousands of "terrorists" that you have to prove innocent before they can board a plane certainly.

     

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  57.  
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    Erin B., Feb 17th, 2011 @ 10:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    Wait, really? You think that suggestion would work? Who pats down the TSA? Are we to assume they're above being bribed? Do we have to form another separate agency to police the TSA? Who polices them?

     

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  58.  
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    TDR, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:06am

    The TSA is human DRM and like DRM, should be removed. One thing I wonder though, about how certain people are that a hijacking can't still happen just because the cockpit door is unlocked. Can't the hijackers just threaten to start killing passengers and crew unless the cockpit is opened? Just asking, as that thought always crosses my mind when people bring up the point about the cockpit doors.

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:07am

    Re: Re:

    Nice, the Gipper actual reduced the size of the gov. Time to hit the history books.

     

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  60.  
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    Matt (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re: Re:

    It's possible he's confused by the fact that Obama has started referring to himself as the Gipper

     

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  61.  
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    Matt (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You understand how this defeats your point, right? Mike says TSA is basically a waste and ineffectual, and then adds that it also contains bad apples that steal. The few bad apples add to his indictment of what he views as a corrupt and ineffective system. So that seems consistent.

    On the other hand, he believes copyright protection to be too strong and inefficient, industries that rely on it to make ends meet outdated and blind, and the technology neutral but potentially very, very good. Then he notes that it is also capable of being used badly. Nothing inconsistent there, either: the few bad apples merely prove up the neutrality of the technology and the ineffectiveness of copyright protection. (Just like rampant theft by government police officers with a right to detain and sequestor personal property proves the ineffectiveness of oversight and "TSA-approved" luggage locks).

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    DS, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re:

    Go classically fuck yourself, TSA.

     

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  63.  
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    Benjamin (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'll assume that was aimed at me, and I'll point out that "a few bad apples that steal" is hardly an indictment of anything. Everyone has a few bad apples who steal. This does not contribute to an argument against say, the public school system. If I were to argue against public schools, I wouldn't bother adding "...and some teachers steal" because it doesn't really strengthen my case. It only makes me look somewhat petty and bitter.

     

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  64.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:49am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Nice, the Gipper actual reduced the size of the gov. Time to hit the history books."

    Bwah!!???! His rhetoric might have talked about shrinking govt., but his public policies were something else:

    1. As Governor of California, he oversaw the largest tax increase in state history

    2. He allowed the military budget to absolutely EXPLODE as President

    3. He reversed several of his tax cut programs

    4. He expanded the War on Drugs

    5. The Federal Govt. overall EXPANDED under his watch

    6. He saved Social Security in 1983 by VASTLY expanding it

    7. He Expanded the Presidential Cabinet

    8. Reagan NEVER cut the federal budget, he only slowed its expansion

    9. An additional 61k federal workers were added to the payroll under him

    10. He put in place the gas tax in 1993

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    Morely Dotes, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 11:56am

    Re: Bad TSA!

    The difference is that the TSA has never actually done anything good or useful; not once in their entire history have they prevented anyone from boarding an aircraft and charged them with attempted hijacking/terrorism/whatever because the *real* purpose of the TSA is to get you used to giving up your 4th Amendment rights, not to protect you from anything.

    Ionizing radiation or an invasive and arguably illegal groping, or you don't get to fly. OK, I choose to not fly. Guess what that does to the airlines' profits if a significant percentage of Americans finally figure out that they are cattle being herded to the slaughterhouse?

    Whereas torrents are used routinely for legitimate distribution of both free and purchased software, the TSA is completely illegitimate, as well as ineffective, illegal, and staffed by the morally bankrupt.

     

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  66.  
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    Matt (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 12:42pm

    Re:

    Say you are the captain of a 757, and someone picks up the phone in the main cabin and tells your navigator that they are killing crew and passengers, and will continue to do so until you open the cockpit door. Knowing that this person is a self-proclaimed murderer, and guessing that giving him control of the plane will likely result in the death of everyone on it as well as people on the ground, how would you react? I would tell the navigator to hangup, call in the threat to the nearest airport, circle until the airport had plenty of police on the runway, then set down. I would not open the cockpit door until someone on the radio told me the plane was empty and it was safe to come out. And at some point, I would probably assume that the 200 non-terrorists on the plane were making some kind of effort to stop the guy trying to get into the cockpit with a plastic spork.

    Locking the door does not end all opportunities for terrorism, but it increases the cost of pulling one off. You can't do it with box cutters, you need to smuggle something more on board. Not impossible, but not as easy as it was.

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    DogBreath, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 12:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Seriously?

    I'm sure they could find quite a few airline passengers (and not just those whose belongings were stolen) who would be willing to volunteer to form a civilian "Agent Screening Group", to give them a "free" screening before leaving the airport terminal. It's best to check all agents, so that way none of them can say that they were unfairly singled out.

    A mandatory pat down and/or backscatter check because they might be hiding stolen items on their person under their clothing. Making the TSA Agents put all items in a bin for inspection and asking simple questions like, "Is this your iPad, cell phone, laptop computer, etc...?" and "Do you have a receipt or any other way that you can prove these items are yours?" would be fun for some. Heck, you might even have people who would be willing to pay for the opportunity to do such a thing to a TSA agent. Kind of like a "Dunk the Clown" ball toss at the state fair. Think of all the extra money airports could generate from such a "E Ticket" (as in Disneyland).

    If they won't submit to the inspection, they're always free to stay in the terminal. No one is making them leave. Plenty of bathrooms, food courts, ATMs, and plenty of comfortable chairs/benches to sleep on. They certainly won't have to worry about being late to work anymore because when they wake up... well, you get the picture.

    Passengers get checked going in (because you might be a terrorist), TSA [and other airline workers] get checked going out (because you might be a thief). Perfect symmetry.

     

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  68.  
    icon
    Matt (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I find this to be a very strange argument, and I apologize in advance if I am not understanding it. We do not primarily charge public schools with protecting person or property so that people feel safe and secure. To the degree we do, I think it would be a very effective indictment of the system to note that it fails at that task, and that from time to time the system itself preys on kids. I think any rational person faced with that information would say, "at a minimum, we need to fix the system so that it is no longer predatory. We may need to scrap it altogether, and find a system that actually works without creating additional harm."

    We _do_ primarily charge the TSA with protecting person and property. In fact, the TSA itself sees its mission to be to "protect[] the Nation's transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce." I think it is a telling indictment of the TSA to note that it fails to do that, and in fact preys on the people and commerce whose freedom it is supposed to be protecting. I think rational people faced with that information should say, "at a minimum, we need to fix the system so that it is no longer predatory. We may need to scrap it altogether, and find a system that actually works without creating additional harm." Couple the theft problems with the fact that even honest TSA agents are ineffective at actually increasing travel security, and the indictment seems fairly damning.

    How is it that pointing out that the system not only doesn't work, but also causes additional harm fails to contribute that the system should be substantially overhauled? That is not a rhetorical question - I honestly do not understand your argument.

     

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  69.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Feb 17th, 2011 @ 6:04pm

    There is a growing trend amongst airline travellers to ship their belongings prior to their airport experience. This may have started as a response to baggage charges, but now it may signal distrust of the DHS thugs.

     

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  70.  
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    velox (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 7:35pm

    Re: Re: Seriously?

    "...no oversight..."
    ----- +1

     

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  71.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Feb 17th, 2011 @ 9:21pm

    Just a thought

    Its crap like this is why more and more airports are turning to the private sector for there security (albeit meeting government resistance) thus for a company to behave in the way they are, there contracts gets voided. Oh wait, there's no contract with the American people on this, pity.

     

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  72.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 5:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Awww dont be so hard on the AC - I'm sure he spent a lot of time coming up with his little conundrum

     

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  73.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 5:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Spin doctor no like elitist facts

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 5:31am

    Re: Re: Re:

    CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF HOW TAM-WORMTONGUE TWISTS AND SPINS EVERYTHING BECAUSE HE HAS NO REAL POINT.

    First Post:
    "Mike's points of view.
    A few bad actors work for the TSA, so let's get rid of the TSA"

    Second Post:
    "Mike routinely refers to the work of the TSA as "security theater" and questions their actions at every turn. He doubts that they are effective, he doubts they do any good, and he feels they are a waste of time, effort, and money."

    So did Mike say "get rid of the TSA" or did you LIE as usual by pretending he said something he didn't? BTW that's a rhetorical question you lying shilltard.

     

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  75.  
    identicon
    Lady Jane, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 6:14am

    TSA theft

    Leaving aside the suitcase rifling and associated possible pilfering which is indeed an issue, in one airport I have experienced both the most professional handling of an item, hastily and wrongly thrown into a carry-on bag in the hurry of leave-taking(a large bottle of real perfume) .... and a failed attempt at outright theft.

    On the other hand, when I hear from Mrs. Napolitano-- privately and incontrovertibly identifying herself -- I will disclose the name of the airport and a description of those -- likely an organized clique whose jobs allow them to be party to the thievery of genuine opportunity -- who were involved in an attempted institutionally-enabled theft I narrowly escaped. (I suppose it’s a small enough thing, encouraging the flying public to travel with nothing of value –where possible – but should one be a sitting duck to be picked off of whatever can be gleaned in the field?)

    In the interim before an unlikely official contact from DC(or at least hopefully do thinking of ‘no-fly’ lists), I will pose two questions to the readership: 1) What happens to all the dangerous confiscated goods, particularly the good perfumes, shampoos and other expensive personal use products, very often packed in error but likely not dangerous when in the hand-luggage of a middle-aged, frosted blonde with a NJ accent and wearing mink, and 2) if only as a revenue production item, why does the TSA not provide a sort of business reply envelope/packaging, postage due, so that one can choose to mail the offending item home, to go by common carrier if necessary -- as much mail does. This might be a real money-maker!

    One, if bent on trouble, could easily mail a dangerous item to cause a harmful explosion without the trouble of packing a bag, dressing and going to the airport.

    When mailing a package at the Post Office, one is asked if there are dangerous contents; if one tried to carry on such an item(s) illegally when flying, would one hesitate to mail such a thing?

    As to protection from terrorists, the Israelis do it better with profiling and interviews, but they don't have our millions traveling --but they are safer and I expect citizens feel better protected from both trouble and pilfering than we do.

    Perhaps, in the way of the long-practiced social engineering*, all the hassle is meant to drive the traveling public to other routes --to revivify train service?
    (* Think mortgages as a deductible expense post-WWII–and now at a later and different time, think mortgages again.)

    Will this post impact my ability to obtain a ticket –*and fly with it* -- in the future?

     

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  76.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 18th, 2011 @ 9:49am

    That's probably true....but cares? Honestly, if the way to measure any success of the TSA is by how safe people FEEL, then that should tell you everything you know. Every time I hear a politician talk on TV about how people want to feel safe, I want to find that person and slap them.

    Actually, how people feel is important. Is the public perception of the economy important? Of course it is, if people don't feel secure, they won't spend money and the economy will get worse.

    Course, even if people feel safe, they won't feel that way for long if planes start flying into buildings again.

     

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  77.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 8:48pm

    I hate TSA as much as the next guy, but why are people packing $39,000 in their check-in luggage? Ever hear of a bank account?

     

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  78.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2011 @ 8:52pm

    Re:

    oh nevermind...story suggests it was drug money. But then that begs the question of whether or not the money mule was really dumb enough to report the theft?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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