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.

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Comments on “Fire Sale: TSA Now Offering You Your Civil Liberties For A Fee!”

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42 Comments
arcan says:

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

Ambivalent says:

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.

Paul says:

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.

Pragmatic says:

Re: 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?

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

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.

ipgrunt says:

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.)

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

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.

The One (profile) says:

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????

Digger says:

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.

nasch (profile) says:

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.

That One Guy (profile) says:

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.

Shawn says:

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.

Eldakka (profile) says:

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.

DannyB (profile) says:

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.

bert says:

airport

so, the shakedown at american airports is to keep you safe, but there are people who are pre checked and don’t have to be shaken down, so how does that keep you safe?? if airport shakedowns existed to keep you safe the ALL passengers would be shaken down. conclusion: airport shakedowns aren’t for safety despite the propaganda. airport shake downs are to get you softened up to the totalitarian police state random id check you will be subjected to in the near future. keep voting for dems and repubs, fools!

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