DHS Boss: 'Very, Very, Very Few People Get A Pat Down'; Reality: ~1.8 Million People Per Month

from the ministry-of-truth dept

With all of the talk about the TSA airport gropings, Homeland Security boss Janet Napolitano has been a bit on the defensive about the procedure. In answering questions at a press club lunch, she claimed specifically that "very, very, very few people get a pat down," and that it only happens in "under very limited circumstances." She also joked that whenever anyone does get groped, those "tend to get on YouTube."

The obvious suggestion here is that people are making a big deal out of nothing, and very few people are getting "legally" sexually assaulted by our government. Of course, when you claim "very, very, very few" people are getting this kind of "service," it seems you ought to be able to back that up. The folks over at Politifact decided to dig in, and while no one was particularly forthcoming, they got enough info from enough sources (including some data from the TSA) that suggested approximately 1.8 million people per month are getting groped for their own safety. That doesn't sound like very, very, very few. Hell, it doesn't even sound like very few.

Of course, it's unlikely that there will be any ramifications for Napolitano out and out lying to the press concerning government mandated groping. Instead, plenty of people will continue to believe this is an issue that doesn't really affect that many people. Until they get groped.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 8:49am

    Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    Well, given that about 2 million people each day fly, then around 60 million people fly each month.

    So, he should have said "Only around 0.03% of people get groped."

    The best way to misrepresent something is to place it out of context. If you see a news show that says "1200 people dying from 'insert stupid thing there'!" and you do a little digging, it's 1200 people a year across the entire US--or something like 0.00000017%. Who cares?

    If the percentage can be more shocking, then they'll user a percentage--especially if the source data is wrong.

    "In our survey of 100 people paid to say something controversial, there was 99% controversy with a margin of error of +-1%!" Which, of course, is also utter lies and BS.

    What am I saying here? I forgot. Kinda got lost in the rant. Need more coffee...

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 8:51am

    I find the pat down funny. I travel with a fair amount of wire in my backpack(home automation programmer by trade) and I always get to go through the metal detector while my wife(5ft little blonde woman) always gets subject to extra security(Pat down, naked scanner).

    Though last time they did swipe my sealed water bottle and then drank it in front of me. Guess being male middle class and white means I am not a threat, regardless of the suspicious amounts of electronics in my bags, though that factory sealed water bottle must have been a high security risk.

     

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    Zach Mollett (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 8:52am

    Procedural?

    According to the policy posted to their website:
    You will next walk through a metal detector, (or you may request a pat-down inspection instead). Additional screening occurs when an individual sets off the alarm on the metal detector, or if he or she is selected for the additional screening. This screening includes a hand-wand inspection in conjunction with a pat-down inspection that includes the torso. A pat-down inspection complements the hand-wand inspection. In order to ensure security, this inspection may include sensitive areas of the body. Security Officers are rigorously trained to maintain the highest levels of professionalism. You may request that your pat-down inspection be conducted in private.


    This seems like a bit much to go through however it stipulates that this only happens when you set off an alarm or request it. Sounds to me that there may be a few people out there that don't mind being touched so much.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 8:57am

    Sometimes I wonder if these people are just knowingly lying or if they are just so out of touch with reality that they really don't know any better. Do the people that give power to the TSA every actually have to deal with them?

     

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    PW (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 9:03am

    Oh yeah, and there's that lil' thing...

    She seems to forget that the reason for the groping was to make people so uncomfortable that they would submit to the scanners. I guess it's working somewhat, people don't want to be molested in airports, so when faced w/cancer inducing machines versus not flying (for biz or to see a loved one), they choose the machines. This should not be an endorsement of her groping techniques.

    Imagine if instead of groping they shot people. "We only had to shoot very very very few people, most comply and go through the 4th Amend. stripping machines." ;)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:03am

    Re: Procedural?

    You also get the pat-down if you refuse the x-ray machines. That description doesn't mention that step.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 9:04am

    Further comment

    "Homeland Security boss Janet Napolitano has been a bit on the defensive about the procedure. In answering questions at a press club lunch, she claimed specifically that "very, very, very few people get a pat down,"....

    She followed that up by saying, "And another thing, can we get over the whole Holocaust thing? So a handful of people died. No biggie."

     

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    hobo, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:05am

    Re: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    Math is off. 3 percent. not 0.03 percent.

    Cheers.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:06am

    Would anyone mind lending me a very, very, very few dollars? I shall gladly repay you Tuesday.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:13am

    Re: Re: Procedural?

    That's called "asking for it."

     

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  11.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 9:15am

    Re: Re: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    Oop! You're right. Knew I wasn't awake yet.

     

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    greg42, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:20am

    Re: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    Um, no, it is in fact 3%, not 0.03% 1.8 million out of 60 million.

     

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    Jackie D, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:23am

    What a liar

    I have been subjected to pat-downs on EVERY LEG of EVERY TRIP I have made in the past six months. (I fly at least once per month.) She and her laughter disgust me.

     

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    greg42, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:29am

    Re: Procedural?

    The description about metal detector is wrong now. You most assuredly get a pat down if you refuse to go through the whole body imaging device. These are the default at some checkpoint lines or are used by pulling people out of a metal detector line.

    And even if you submit to the naked scanner, you STILL will get a pat down if they have an anomaly on the scan. This can happen even if you just move slightly at the wrong time or accidentally leave something in your pocket or whatever.

     

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    E. Zachary Knight (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 9:30am

    Re: What a liar

    Hey. If you weren't so obviously a terrorist, you shouldn't have anything to worry about.

     

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    CarlWeathersForPres (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 9:36am

    So you're saying that .6% of the US population is groped every month by the TSA(assuming you only get groped once a month)? Even if we assume that everyone who has been groped will be groped again, we come up with 3.5% of the population in the US receiving a fondling by the TSA every year(upwards of 7% if we assume everyone is fondled just once). Call me skeptical, but it seems like 1.8 million/month is somewhat of an exaggeration, but that's just me.

     

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  17.  
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    PRMan, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:39am

    Re:

    Ask Janet to lend you the money. After all, it's only very, very, very few dollars.

     

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    Sherry, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:43am

    Bullshit, TSA is bullshit

    I have been groped on EVERY trip I've made in the last few months as well, which has been about 6 flights and YES, I REFUSE to get in their radiation naked scanners EVERY time. BUT I have been with a group every time I've flown and seem to get picked every time for the scanner which I refuse and then they get nasty and rude and tell me "Do you know what you've done by refusing the scanner?" YEah........do your groping job!!! I have been raped before and this is VERY uncomfortable for me, but so is the scanner, where the perverts are looking at your pics as you walk through. The TSA has NEVER stopped a terrorist yet and this is against my constitutional rights. But hey, the government doesn't use the constitution anymore.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:46am

    Re: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    not 0.03% but 3% which makes a huge difference like 100

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:47am

    Not every pat down is a grope unless you define every grope as a pat down.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re: Procedural?

    What, would you rather have them ignore the anomaly, which might be a gun or bomb rather that you moving at the wrong time?

     

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  22.  
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    Berenerd (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 9:53am

    Re:

    Is your wife cute? just sayin...

     

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  23.  
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    DCX2, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:54am

    Re: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    So, he should have said "Only around 0.03% of people get groped."

    Janet Napolitano is a woman.

     

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  24.  
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    Jim O (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 9:55am

    Re:

    Yeah. 1.8M seems a bit high to me too. If a scanner can do two scans a minute and do so constantly for say... 12 hours a day, rounding down, that's 1400 scans/machine/day. That means that it would take 1285 machines operating constantly all day. Is that in the ballpark?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:57am

    Re: Oh yeah, and there's that lil' thing...

    Except of course, that there's no evidence that any of the scanning machines cause cancer, and by voluntarily being searched, nobody's rights are being stripped. Other than that, your pointless post was completely pointless.

     

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  26.  
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    Jim O (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re:

    Whoops. That is the number of people getting cancer from the machines every year... sorry for your wasted time.

    This little exercise has made me very suspicious of the 1.8 million estimate anyway. I hate the ideas of getting groped as much as the next guy... but these numbers don't seem right.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:58am

    Re: Bullshit, TSA is bullshit

    Maybe if you stop being so uptight and an obvious threat, you won't get a pat down?

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 10:01am

    Over 90% of those who receive pat downs do so because it's their own fault, so yes, very, very few people get one. It's always either the people who refuse to the non-intrusive scanning methods, or those that are too stupid to follow instructions (remove all metal items, etc.) and who set off the scanners. Obviously, if you set off the scanner, or refuse it, you NEED a pat down. This is a complete non-issue.

     

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  29.  
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    CarlWeathersForPres (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 10:11am

    Re: Re: Re:

    My other problem is that the politifact article is pretty bare bones, and it matter of factly claims Allen acknowledged 3% of passengers during March. I don't necessarily doubt this, but why not link to primary material, or even quote him directly? Also, was March especially high(percentage wise) because there were less travelers? Is 2 million travelers a day the average for the month of may, or for the entire year? If it's the entire year, are you not skewing the numbers? It just seems like a wild extrapolation.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous a-hole, May 18th, 2011 @ 10:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Procedural?

    I'd rather they do something actually useful and constitutional, myself. Grabbing my nutsack isn't either.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 10:25am

    Re: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    She said people not Americans or even American travelers.

    There are about 7billion people in the world so only .025% of them are getting groped. No one would argue that this is a large percentage.

    In fact, by some estimations, there will be 20billion people by 2020 or so. That puts it down to .009% of the people of the world being groped by the TSA.

    This is a favorable trend. Why are people complaining?

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Re: Re: Oh yeah, and there's that lil' thing...

    I know, people have such a ridiculous knee-jerk reaction to these things. Somehow they think that just because radiation raises your risk of cancer, a machine that irradiates your entire body will raise your risk of cancer.

     

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  33.  
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    Gumnos (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 10:32am

    And when the lawsuits start...

    ...I'm sure the TSA will gladly pay out "very, very, very few" dollars in settlement...

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 10:33am

    Reading Comprehension

    5ft little blonde woman

     

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    jilocasin, May 18th, 2011 @ 10:36am

    Re: Re: Oh yeah, and there's that lil' thing...

    Ummmm I think you missed the point, you wrote:

    "....and by voluntarily[emphasis mine] being searched, nobody's rights are being stripped."

    Perhaps you would have a point if it was in any way voluntary. I have yet to hear about any airline traveler that said; "Please Mr. TSA man touch me in a morally inappropriate way." and then went on to complain about it.

    If you enter the screening area the TSA reserves the right to 'screen' you. Don't even start with the, '... well you volunteered when you decided to fly." nonsense. Because if you go to fly and they say they want to assault you, even if you change your mind and decide not to fly they still reserve the right to assault you.

    So the original poster did have a point, it's your response that I found rather pointless.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 10:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well, as it seems there are 14,000 airports in the US, that averages out to roughly 129 passengers per month (4.3 passengers per day) per airport. Given the MASSIVE amounts of throughput some airports see, I would almost agree that 1.8 million/month is low...

    That being said, this isn't a question of scale, it's a question of principle. The government should not be allowed, according to our Constitution, to just pull you aside at random and frisk you. It doesn't matter if it only happens ten times in a year, it shouldn't happen at all.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 10:47am

    Nappy is an illegal alien sympathizing liar. She was a terrible governor of Arizona and fought law enforcement every time they tried to enforce immigration laws. Someone she got promoted to head of homeland security for not giving a shit how many illegals invaded Arizona. It's a bad joke.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 10:50am

    Re:

    I'm at hightened risk for cancer as it is, so you'll excuse me if I choose not to be irradiated everytime I need to go on a business trip. I don't think that's grounds to say I "deserve" a pat down.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 11:14am

    Backscatter and Cancer

    Here's a starting source for the backscatter x-ray health risk:
    http://healthfreedoms.org/2010/01/05/cancer-danger-in-airport-backscatter-x-ray-machines/

    What that article doesn't mention is that ionizing (penetrating) radiation exposure is also cumulative. Every single time you pass through one of those scanners, you increase your risk of cancer. It never goes away.

    If I had the option, I too would avoid airline travel until both the backscatter machines AND the "enhanced" pat-down stop being used (one or the other) on each and every citizen.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 11:15am

    Re: Procedural?

    "or if he or she is selected for the additional screening."

    No alarm or request needed.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 11:17am

    Re: Re: Oh yeah, and there's that lil' thing...

    Please explain your definition of "voluntarily"

    Thanks!

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 11:21am

    Re:

    You have an interesting definition of "fault."

     

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    CarlWeathersForPres (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    14,000 airports? Are you counting all of the tiny municipal airports? Wiki
    makes it look more like 300-400 Commercial Airports(ones that actually have the TSA presence). You seriously think that there is an airport for every 2,200 people in the United States(300 million/14,000 airports)?

    I agree with your second point though, I just don't understand why you'd need to make such ridiculous accounting errors to make it. That's my whole issue, don't let exaggerations deter people from the whole point, just let the real facts(which are probably still compelling) and actual issue do the talking, not misinformation.

     

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    hobo, May 18th, 2011 @ 11:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    Let's just agree to blame the calculators and leave it there.

     

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    Prictionary, May 18th, 2011 @ 11:39am

    Define: voluntarily

    voluntarily is Defined by the TSA as it suits their needs at the moment.

    #define "voluntarily" = TSA whim (at the moment)

     

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  46.  
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    Joshy, May 18th, 2011 @ 11:47am

    The statistic never mentioned is the number of items discovered via a pat down versus Metal Detector versus X-Ray versus bomb swipe?????

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 11:55am

    Re:

    "Non-intrusive." Right.

     

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  48.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 12:16pm

    Re: Re: Oh yeah, and there's that lil' thing...

    It doesn't qualify as legally voluntary since we are "volunteering" under duress.

    It's like someone giving you the choice of being raped or killed. Ether choice doesn't qualify as voluntary.

     

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  49.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 12:31pm

    Random question

    Has anyone ever done a blind study that determines the ratio of male to female random pat-down candidates? Possibly a hot or not study? Yes, I'm questioning if the TSA is choosing their random candidates based on who they would like to feel up.

    The question got some validity when I saw that Sherry got a pat-down on every trip and AC didn't, but his blond wife did (always).

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 12:35pm

    Re: Re: Oh yeah, and there's that lil' thing...

    Its not voluntary, you either get searched or scanned, otherwise they won't allow you to fly.

    Or are you saying taking an airplane is voluntary? Sure, I suppose. You could also ride a bus for ten days to get to your destination, or take a boat to get to the other side of the continent.

    Common sense = UnAmerican, though, so you will obviously forget about something called "feasibility".

     

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    Lee (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 12:35pm

    Permission granted

    You knew when you bought the ticket it was a possibility that you would have to be scanned/groped. so you gave consent to either / both. if you don't want either don't fly. there are other options.

     

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  52.  
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    Atkray (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    "Janet Napolitano is a woman."

    Citation needed

     

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  53.  
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    Clint, May 18th, 2011 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Procedural?

    I was in Milwaukee in Feb and they had actually closed the regular lines and were scanning and patting down everyone. Not very many people in line but seemed less about security and more about practice for the TSA. Shouldn't the train on each other?

     

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  54.  
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    BobM, May 18th, 2011 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    Check your math. It's 3%, not .03%

    (1,800,000 / 60,000,000 = .03 = 3%)

     

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  55.  
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    Sherry, May 18th, 2011 @ 1:01pm

    Re:

    "Non-intrusive scanning methods"???? it IS intrusive. If it wasn't intrusive then I guess you should be willing to just walk through naked for them.

    I REFUSE to bow down to the government that tries to fool us into believing that they are "protecting" us and that this all somehow makes me feel safer.

    I want to see EVERY government politician go through these interrogations with their children and wives, husbands, etc. and see what they think. Oooops I forgot,....they are exempt from that.........they fly around on million dollar jets for just one or two of them.

     

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  56.  
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    sherry, May 18th, 2011 @ 1:05pm

    Re: Permission granted

    That doesn't make it ok to violate our constitutional rights on airlines that they don't own.

     

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    Oblate (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 1:24pm

    Make the most of it

    They should also teach the TSA employees some useful skills, like checking for testicular and/or breast cancer. They're apparently already doing about 99% of the work anyway. This might also counteract the (debated) negative effect from the radiation used by the scanners. There's precedent for this too, with the head of DHS already doing prostate self-exams, although they're usually not done visually (or on females, but you have to admire her dedication). Looking forward to my health report next time I fly...

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    @:Lobo Santo:

    1)As others have stated it's 3% not .03%
    2)In otherwords, that's just short of 1 out of 30

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 3:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Procedural?

    And everyone knows it's not sexual assault if you were asking for it.

     

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  60.  
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    abc gum, May 18th, 2011 @ 6:26pm

    What does "Very, Very, Very Few" mean?

    It means that the person saying this does not want to discuss actual numbers and would rather spew bullshit.

     

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  61.  
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    marietta, May 18th, 2011 @ 8:24pm

    Re: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    Hey Einstein,
    1.8 million out of 60 million is about 3%.

     

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  62.  
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    BearGriz72 (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 12:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    Apparently nobody notices when you admit a mistake around here....

    5 additional responses to correct the math...

    /yawn

     

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  63.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 4:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sorry, I was being intentionally lazy to play to the opposition -- if there are 14,000 airports, then that's about 4 people per airport per day, and that's a small number. I didn't check the 14000 figure; if it's only 400 airports, we get much further away from the "very small number" idea.

    The point of my post was the "it shouldn't haoppen at all." If 1.8mil/14000 is unacceptable, then 1.8mil/400 is VERY unacceptible.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous a-hole, May 19th, 2011 @ 8:25am

    Re: Permission granted

    I also know there's a possibility of the plane smashing into the ground. Does that mean the airlines can forgo any form of maintenance or repairs?

     

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

  65.  
    identicon
    kaekae, May 19th, 2011 @ 9:49am

    When I flew I always got the patdown at least once on every roundtrip - for one reason and one reason only. I wear skirts - and yes, that is what they told me.
    Thankfully, I flew home for the last time right before they started the "enhanced patdown."

     

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

  66.  
    icon
    CarlWeathersForPres (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I just find a lot of the posting that Mike does hypocritical because on one hand you have a post where he decries the use of shoddy statistics(see the ITC post he has today) and then wholeheartedly accepts a throw away statistic. I don't mind his critique of the ITC where there is actually a methodology and report that you can disagree with how they dots(that's a logical venture), I just think that it's poor "scholarship" to accept numbers when they fit your world view and question those that don't.

     

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

  67.  
    identicon
    Another coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 5:04pm

    Re: What a liar

    I was "patted" down so forcefully, the TSA woman put her finger right through the lace on my bra. I learned really quickly to wear Wal-mart underwear when flying.

     

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

  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 8:02pm

    As a fairly die hard libertarian I completely disagree with the whole idea of these searches, however we need to be carefull to avoid using strawmen for our reasoning. He you claim you are worried about ionizing radiation, you should not be flying in the first place. Although the estimates vary somewhat based on location and solar activity (and from model to model of the scanners), it's fairly consistant that the amount of additional radiation you're exposed to on a six hour flight (less atmosphere @ 30,000 feet = less protection from solar radiation) is at least 50 times what you are exposed to in a properly calibrated backscatter scanner. What I do have an issue with, is how invasive of a search this is without probable cause.

     

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

  69.  
    identicon
    Pedant, May 20th, 2011 @ 4:47pm

    Re: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    I think you need to check your math, again. If 2Mn people fly per day and nearly 2Mn people get groped per month, that works out to 1-in-30 people getting groped. That's 3%, not 0.03%.

     

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

  70.  
    identicon
    Subverted, May 20th, 2011 @ 4:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    Default article view didn't include the sub-replies.

     

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

  71.  
    identicon
    Luke, May 21st, 2011 @ 6:44am

    Re: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    I completely agree with you other than your bad math. It's not .03% but it's 3%.

     

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

  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2011 @ 9:24pm

    Re: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    That would be 3%, not .03%.

     

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

  73.  
    identicon
    JoeK, May 26th, 2011 @ 9:27am

    Re: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics.

    1.8/60 = 0.03 = 3%.

    I appreciate your comments about percentages vs. absolute values, but let's not be off by a factor of 100.

    And even if it is 0.03%, when the activity is wrong, useless, and sensationalist, who cares how small the number? It doesn't need to be happening, and already DOESN'T happen in far "hotter" places. Go read up on security at Israeli checkpoints -- they don't do very many random pat-downs because they know how to screen folks properly and accurately with more suitable means.

     

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


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