Child With Brittle Bone Disease Detained By TSA For An Hour
from the if-you're-going-to-be-oppressive-at-least-do-your-job-right dept
It's no secret that I don't think much of the TSA. In addition to a long list of pieces we've done on what I consider one of the most useless government agencies, there's also the more recent story I covered discussing whether or not the agency's operations have resulted in more deaths in the past decade than all the terrorism against American's combined. Still, there is some discussion over whether all of this freedom-taking and death is worth the fuzzy feeling we all suposedly get when boarding a plane, knowing that at least all of this asshat-ery is making us safer.
But then you hear the story of someone like Shelbi Walser, a twelve year old girl from Texas who suffers brittle bone disease and also apparently has to suffer with over-zealous federal employees that don't have enough common sense to fill a thimble.
Shelbi Walser, 12, has brittle bone disease, and was flying to Tampa, Fla., to receive treatment on Sunday when she was randomly selected for an explosives screening on her way through security. Tammy Daniels, Walser's mother, said that her daughter tested positive for explosives when a screener swabbed Walser's palms and fingers.
Speaking with ABC affiliate WFAA, Walser said that she has no idea how the traces of explosive got on her. “It could have come off fertilizer, because we have chickens. I could have run through something from them,” she said. “It could have just come off the ground, because I roll through everything.”
Here's the thing. Even if you believe that the threat of terrorism via explosives on airplanes is everything that the government would have you believe (and I don't), and even if you think that the methods used by the TSA can help make us safer (and I don't), we're still left with a federal agency that is given so much leeway in curtailing our liberty that they at least should get their damned jobs right. There can be such a thing as common sense in airport security, where you understand that the 12 year old Texan with brittle bone disease probably isn't going 'splode a jetliner. Certainly it seems unlikely that it would take an hour for the TSA to come to this determination.
“I am by no means undermining our safety in the air. After 9/11, by no means am I doing that,” Daniels told WFAA. “But when it comes to children, common sense is not in a textbook.”
This has always been the problem with the TSA: in the absence of common sense there is such a thing as the paralysis of bureaucracy, and when that paralysis comes to the people in the form of handbook-style security, then that's a win for the very people we're supposed to be protected against.