Fire Sale: TSA Now Offering You Your Civil Liberties For A Fee!

from the freedom-isn't-free dept

You've likely heard the phrase "freedom isn't free" before, probably in the context of honoring our service men and women, paying taxes, voting, or paying for audio clips of the movie Braveheart. It's one of those phrases that's been used so often that it's probably no longer worthwhile. My main complaint about the phrase, other than the generally mouth-breathing blowhards who use it, is it leaves the obvious follow up question unanswered: fine, then how much will freedom cost me? It's an important question we've never really had an answer to...until now.

And that answer is? 85 whole American dollars. No, I didn't get that out of some Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy fan-fiction. I got it from the TSA, who announced an expanded program to touch your ugly bits less if you pay up.

TSA Precheck allows passengers who have been pre-approved to keep on their shoes and belt, not remove their jackets, keep their laptops inside their cases, and not have to remove select liquids and gels from their bags. In other words, besides the line, they can avoid most of the hassles of going through an airport security checkpoint.
Now, to be clear, the TSA's Precheck program has been around for some time, but this is a fairly significant expansion of that program, not to mention a sweet price drop. So all of the scare-mongering we previously heard as justification for searching through our things and our pants could have been swept away with a background check and $85? That almost sounds like a good deal, except then you remember that most airport security is futility as performance art to begin with and paying for civil liberties is the kind of thing that would have made Thomas Jefferson grab a musket and his pantaloons.

And here's another consideration: why am I to believe these background checks and $85 make a person safe to pass through large swaths of the airport security that any normal citizen must endure? A fingerprint and $85 doesn't keep someone from being radicalized at a later date. It doesn't mean all the scary terrorist groups out there can't plant someone on a long-term mission specifically to get approved for this list. There's every bit as much danger in these people as in the rest of us. Which is to say, very little, actually.

All this tells me is that if TSA security is either so poor or so unnecessary that millions of people qualify to bypass most of it, and they're expanding that bypass, maybe the answer is to scale the security theater back instead of handing everyone an $85 bill.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 6:01pm

    Final Offer

    How much to make them go away altogether? Can we get a kickstarter going for this?

     

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

  2.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 6:20pm

    $1.05

    Freedom isn't free
    No, there's a hefty fuckin' fee
    And if you don't throw in your buck 'o five
    Who will?
    You don't throw in your buck 'o five
    Who will?

    Oo, buck 'o five
    Freedom costs a buck 'o five

     

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

  3.  
    icon
    HappyBlogFriend (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 6:23pm

    Ah, so the TSA is selling indulgences. $85 and your soul will be absolved of terrorism.

     

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

  4.  
    icon
    bosconet (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 6:44pm

    The real tragedy...

    is even if EVERYONE ponied up $85 it wouldn't reduce the TSA by 1 person......

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    arcan, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 6:50pm

    Fuck that. I will not sell out my pride for 85 dollars.

    I do not like them,
    TSA
    I do not like
    Your offers

    Would you like them
    Here or there?

    I would not like them
    here or there.
    I would not like them
    anywhere.
    I do not like
    giving up my liberty
    I do not like them,
    TSA

    Would you like them
    in a house?
    Would you like them
    with a mouse?

    I do not like them
    in a house.
    I do not like them
    with a mouse.
    I do not like them
    here or there.
    I do not like them
    anywhere.
    I do not like your fake terrorist plots
    I do not like them, TSA


    Would you eat them
    in a box?
    Would you eat them
    with a fox?

    Not in a box.
    Not with a fox.
    Not in a house.
    Not with a mouse.
    I would not eat them here or there.
    I would not eat them anywhere.
    I would not eat your bitter pills
    I do not like them, TSA

    Would you? Could you?
    in a car?
    Eat them! Eat them!
    Here they are.

    I would not ,
    could not,
    in a car

    You may like them.
    You will see.
    You may like them
    in a tree?
    d not in a tree.
    I would not, could not in a tree.
    Not in a car! You let me be.

    I do not like them in a box.
    I do not like them with a fox
    I do not like them in a house
    I do mot like them with a mouse
    I do not like them here or there.
    I do not like them anywhere.
    I do not like your constant bullshit
    I do not like them, TSA

    A train! A train!
    A train! A train!
    Could you, would you
    on a train?

    Not on a train! Not in a tree!
    Not in a car! TSA! Let me be!
    I would not, could not, in a box.
    I could not, would not, with a fox.
    I will not eat them with a mouse
    I will not eat them in a house.
    I will not eat them here or there.
    I will not eat them anywhere.
    I do not like them, Sam-I-am.


    Say!
    In the dark?
    Here in the dark!
    Would you, could you, in the dark?

    I would not, could not,
    in the dark.

    Would you, could you,
    in the rain?

    I would not, could not, in the rain.
    Not in the dark. Not on a train,
    Not in a car, Not in a tree.
    I do not like them, TSA, you see.
    Not in a house. Not in a box.
    Not with a mouse. Not with a fox.
    I will not eat them here or there.
    I do not like them anywhere!

    You do not like
    the security theater?

    I do not
    like them,
    TSA

    Could you, would you,
    with a goat?

    I would not,
    could not.
    with a goat!

    Would you, could you,
    on a boat?

    I could not, would not, on a boat.
    I will not, will not, with a goat.
    I will not eat them in the rain.
    I will not eat them on a train.
    Not in the dark! Not in a tree!
    Not in a car! You let me be!
    I do not like them in a box.
    I do not like them with a fox.
    I will not eat them in a house.
    I do not like them with a mouse.
    I do not like them here or there.
    I do not like them ANYWHERE!

    I do not like
    anything to do with you

    I do not like them,
    TSA

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 7:06pm

    Re: $1.05

    I think it should be 5 cents.

     

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

  7.  
    icon
    Justin (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 7:09pm

    The terrorists had spotless records and would pass any background check.

     

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

  8.  
    icon
    Beta (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 7:19pm

    basic economics, again

    If we let them become a revenue source, we will never, ever be rid if them.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 8:38pm

    Sure under one condition

    I'll gladly pay - if they'll let me burn their headquarters down with them all chained up inside it. Might as well keep our offers and theirs at the same levels of reasonability.

     

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

  10.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Sep 6th, 2013 @ 9:53pm

    NSA, MMO style

    So first they make dealing with them extremely aggravating and humiliating, and then they offer you the ability to pay to avoid having random strangers give you complementary gropings... someone has been playing a few too many pay-to-win MMO's it seems.

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Ambivalent, Sep 6th, 2013 @ 11:25pm

    From someone who works at a travel agency and has a global entry card...

    Hate to
    tell you this, but the joke here is that the several dozen airports who are already running PreCheck programs don't even let you use the "perks" the vast majority of the time. Oh sure, they'll let you walk up the shory line at security - but good luck with your chances that the TSA staff on duty are actually operating the expedited screening lane. Most of the time they can't be bothered, and you're thrown back into the regular line. They certainly don't let you keep your shoes on. I wish I were kidding, but this has been my consistent experience traveling the last couple of years. JFK and Boston Logan are the only airports I've actually been able to consistently use my GE status on a semi-regular basis,

    I didn't have to pay for my own screening and whatnot to get global entry, but it hasn't stopped me from standing there, plastic bin in hand, wondering what's the fucking point.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    Wolfy, Sep 7th, 2013 @ 12:14am

    TSA and fees for a "pass".

    Perhaps it's Odin's way of saying "Slow the fuck down and take a boat"?

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2013 @ 12:57am

    lol 'merica

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2013 @ 1:20am

    Liberty may one day cost you your life if you are willing to pay the price.
    Tyranny is upon us right now.
    Who's willing to fight?
    I know I am.

     

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

  15.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Sep 7th, 2013 @ 2:24am

    Re:

    Where is Martin Luther when you need him?

     

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

  16.  
    icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Sep 7th, 2013 @ 2:50am

    Later date? Not even that!

    A fingerprint and $85 doesn't keep someone from being radicalized at a later date. It doesn't mean all the scary terrorist groups out there can't plant someone on a long-term mission specifically to get approved for this list
    Having worked at an international event that did extensive background checks on all staff involved in the event, I know exactly how effective this is and I know there's a very high likelihood it will not detect someone prepared enough and trying to hide.

    The event in question works closely with the UK police and security services and checks out all of the 5,000+ staff that work the event. I will wager that these checks are at least as extensive as those given "pre-cleared" passengers and I know of several incidents where things have slipped through - e.g. a reporter managing to work at the event "undercover" by falsifying their background.

    The point is, even for only a few thousand people, it's simply impossible to do a thorough-enough background check to be sure someone is who they claim to be - one replies on spotting "something not right" in a cursory check to dig deeper. Multiply that by the number of people that travel and it is impossible that pre-clearing can be much more than another piece of money-making security theatre.

     

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

  17.  
    icon
    DOlz (profile), Sep 7th, 2013 @ 6:04am

    So we have moved from security theatre to a protection racket? Hey, that's a nice bottle of Dansi you have there, be a real shame if something happened to it.

     

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

  18.  
    identicon
    Paul, Sep 7th, 2013 @ 8:23am

    Re: From someone who works at a travel agency and has a global entry card...

    The last thing I would ever want to do is defend the TSA, but this is contrary to my experiences. Every time I have been in an airport that offers precheck, the line has been operating and going through it was pretty much exactly like going through pre-911. No taking out laptops or liquids, no taking off of shoes, and a simple metal detector.

     

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

  19.  
    icon
    loaderboy (profile), Sep 7th, 2013 @ 9:00am

    Re: $1.05

    A dollar two ninety eight.

     

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

  20.  
    icon
    OldMugwump (profile), Sep 7th, 2013 @ 9:18am

    How is the different from any other tax?

    Pay your taxes or lose your liberty - they lock you up.

    What is everyone complaining about? How is this any different?

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    ipgrunt, Sep 7th, 2013 @ 11:07am

    Re: Protection racket

    Some screeners are collecting their own taxes from your wallets and luggage.

    From this report:

    http://blackburn.house.gov/uploadedfiles/blackburn_tso_report.pdf

    it sounds like the frequent traveler needs protection from TSA "officers" (who are really sworn LE officers, but play them to packed audiences at the TSA security theater in an airport near you.)

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    ipgrunt, Sep 7th, 2013 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re: Protection racket

    Yikes, I lost a not. I meant to write "not really sworn LE officers"

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 7th, 2013 @ 4:07pm

    Do my frequent flyer miles cover this?

    I mean, they kind of should, after all I've proven I'm not a risk by frequently flying.

     

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

  24.  
    icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), Sep 7th, 2013 @ 4:20pm

    Pay to Lose Your Rights

    What should we suppose this "pre-check" process entails? Hmmmm... Probably investigation of your associates, affiliations, speeches, religion, and writings to make sure you don't have any inappropriate beliefs; a check to make sure you don't have any scary WMD's...ooops...guns; and a search of anything they deem necessary to make sure you aren't one of those infernal dissenters...ooops...terrorists including, probably, your house, your car, your computer, your bank records, and anything else they can think of.

    Complete surrender of your First, Second, and Fourth Amendment rights. For which you may get nothing, since if they refuse your application you have no recourse; not even to get an explanation.

    Even if you are accepted, that's not the end of it: You signed away your Rights permanently. Because if you don't renew your membership, or if you try to withdraw from the program, well, that's suspicious, right? Probable cause for a warrant to conduct a review, just to see what you're up to.

    And the best part is, you applied to give up your Rights.

     

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

  25.  
    icon
    The One (profile), Sep 7th, 2013 @ 5:37pm

    TSA Con game, the punishment for flying.

    It's good to see this government con game on the American Public. Problem is, if we fail to pay do the consequences continue to mount? Soon will it be mandatory with tremendous charges of interest and penalties and soon they are taking your bank account or throwing you in prison with Wesley Snipes? Then you are placed on the no-fly list, band for life, not allowed to vote, speak, write, worship or have a gun? At what extent will these government Dons attach up? To what degree will they subject us to these punishments for flying????

     

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

  26.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Sep 7th, 2013 @ 6:31pm

    Re: NSA, MMO style

    someone has been playing a few too many pay-to-win MMO's it seems.

    So TSA agents are griefers?

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    Digger, Sep 7th, 2013 @ 9:33pm

    Open your own airport, reject the TSA

    Nuff said, start opening TSA free airports - see how fast you make money hand over fist.

    Make it a capital offense for any member of congress, the TSA or any alphabet government organization to enter the premises with shoot to kill orders for same.

    Watch your security increase a thousand fold and your flying experience be pleasant and sunny.

     

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

  28.  
    icon
    hopponit (profile), Sep 7th, 2013 @ 9:33pm

    tsa

    This has me asking who gets the money? Do these fees go to some private company that lobbied for the TSA to get more power? In other words is it more a money grab instead of a conspiracy to grow the TSA. Not good for the citizens either way.

     

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

  29.  
    icon
    That One Guy (profile), Sep 8th, 2013 @ 3:27am

    Re: tsa

    If I had to guess I'd say the fees are probably split fairly even between the TSA(who likely kick a chunk of it to their supporters in D.C.) and the airports themselves(amazing how large sums of money allow those in charge to ignore customer complaints), so everyone comes out ahead except the people getting groped and scammed.

     

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

  30.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Sep 8th, 2013 @ 7:10am

    Re: Open your own airport, reject the TSA

    start opening TSA free airports

    That raises a good question. Why does TSA have the authority it has? Congress has passed no law mandating the TSA conduct airport security as far as I know. Did they just march in and start doing all this, or did the airlines consent to it, or the airports, or what? What would it take to get rid of them?

    Make it a capital offense for any member of congress, the TSA or any alphabet government organization to enter the premises with shoot to kill orders for same.

    That would take an act of Congress, you know.

     

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

  31.  
    identicon
    Shawn, Sep 8th, 2013 @ 2:44pm

    I wonder

    Are there any studies on the amount of tourism dollars lost to this TSA madness? I am Canadian and I used to travel in and through the US, but I now never fly over, through or into the US for vacation (or any other reason) and I know dozens of other people who also choose to avoid it. I simply could not submit myself to such rights abuses and would end up arrested for the scene I would cause the moment I felt violated. All of this for nothing as well... because you are still more likely to be killed by a fellow citizen or even a cop than by a terrorist in the US.

     

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

  32.  
    icon
    Eldakka (profile), Sep 9th, 2013 @ 1:00am

    Get everyone's fingerprints

    The government has been trying for years to get ID cards, fingerprints and other biometrics on all it's citizens.

    Maybe the whole point is not security, but a grab at getting everyone's fingerprints on file.

    This way we'll seem grateful to give our fingerprints over to the government to avoid the TSA hassle, and we'll even pay them for the scoop-up of them all.

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 9th, 2013 @ 1:52am

    Re: Re: Open your own airport, reject the TSA

    the reason they have such authority is because everyone believes they do

     

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

  34.  
    identicon
    Joe Dirt, Sep 9th, 2013 @ 5:24am

    Re: Re: $1.05

    Not everything can be 5 cents!

     

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

  35.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Sep 9th, 2013 @ 6:24am

    So what is this really?

    The TSA can collect $85 for NOT doing their screening job?

    The $85 is compensation for NOT getting to grope someone they wanted to grope?

    $85 is too much for terrorists to pay.

    Maybe this is designed so that the rich and connected get a special perk that the lowly commoners don't get. Some powerful people felt that it was beneath them to have to be screened or inconvenienced.

    TSA needs the $85 to offset losses due to greater scrutiny of TSA's secret 'confiscating' of iPads and other valuables that go missing from passenger luggage.

     

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

  36.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Sep 9th, 2013 @ 6:46am

    Re:

    Sigh. I've been over this many times before. You can't possibly win a firefight with Militarized!Uncle Sam, so don't waste your time.

    Why is it that the only people who are willing to get their balls to the wall to effect a solution think that violence is the only one? Sheesh! /End rant.

    For the record, public pressure of the kind that took SOPA down will get the job done if we're willing to sustain it. No government can operate without the consent of the people. That's why they distract us by pretending there's a difference between one party and another. The truth is, it's a choice between "bad" and "worse."

    All violence can achieve in that situation is to create a bloodbath that will lead to either the full revolution desired by certain extremists (good luck with that) or (what is much more likely) a failed revolution that sends us into lockdown and a full on overt police state with checkpoints on every street corner. And kiss the Second Amendment goodbye. In fact, the whole Bill of Rights would go in either scenario to either prevent another attempted revolution or to prevent counter-revolutionary activities.

    Use the tried and tested civil process of voting for the right people, legislation, and lawsuits. That stuff worked for civil rights in the Sixties, didn't it?

     

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

  37.  
    identicon
    peter, Sep 9th, 2013 @ 7:32am

    Re: From someone who works at a travel agency and has a global entry card...

    "standing there........ wondering what's the fucking point"

    You and me and millions of air travelers.

     

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

  38.  
    identicon
    peter, Sep 9th, 2013 @ 7:32am

    Re: From someone who works at a travel agency and has a global entry card...

    "standing there........ wondering what's the fucking point"

    You and me and millions of air travelers.

     

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

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Sep 10th, 2013 @ 5:05pm

    Re: Re:

    Those ragtag colonists couldn't possibly win a war against the mighty British empire, so they shouldn't have wasted their time.

    (Anymore I'm beginning to wonder.)

     

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

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Sep 10th, 2013 @ 5:07pm

    Re: Re:

    "But if I die tonight, at least I can say I did what I wanted to do. How 'bout you?" -J. Timberlake

     

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

  41.  
    identicon
    Scott, Jan 2nd, 2014 @ 7:41pm

    I have a solution to getting rid of the TSA and terrorists. Simply quit flying! I have, and I find it much more satisfying than becoming a victim of the NAZIS police aka the TSA. About a month of no one using the airports and they will get the message.

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This