Here’s an idea: let’s abolish the TSA – updated

Posted by: Phineas on June 27, 2011 at 1:01 pm

**Posted by Phineas

While founded with the best of intentions after 9-11, the Transportation Safety Administration has become a source of outrage for Americans rather than a reassuring sense of security. In the past we’ve seen children groped, a breast-cancer survivor forced to remove her prosthetic breast, and a bladder-cancer survivor left soaked in his own urine. I’m sure you can think of others.

This latest incident had got to be a finalist in the “Let’s humiliate innocent travelers” contest: forcing a 95-year old woman to remove her adult diaper before allowing her on the plane:

[Jean] Weber said the two were traveling June 18 from northwest Florida to Michigan, so her mother could move in with relatives before eventually going to an assisted living facility.

“My mother is very ill, she has a form of leukemia,” Weber said. “She had a blood transfusion the week before, just to bolster up her strength for this travel.”

While going through security, the 95-year-old was taken by a TSA officer into a glassed-in area, where a pat-down was performed, Weber said. An agent told Weber “they felt something suspicious on (her mother’s) leg and they couldn’t determine what it was” — leading them to take her into a private, closed room.

Soon after, Weber said, a TSA agent came out and told her that her mother’s Depend undergarment was “wet and it was firm, and they couldn’t check it thoroughly.” The mother and daughter left to find a bathroom, at the TSA officer’s request, to take off the adult diaper.

Weber said she burst into tears during the ordeal, forcing her own pat-down and other measures in accordance with TSA protocol. But she said her mother, a nurse for 65 years, “was very calm” despite being bothered by the fact that she had to go through the airport without underwear.

Eventually, Weber said she asked for her mother to be whisked away to the boarding gate without her, because their plane was scheduled to leave in two minutes and Weber was still going through security.

TSA defended itself against complaints by saying its agents were following proper procedure, and it’s true that explosives have been smuggled in underwear before, as Ed Morrissey points out. But it’s not just the lack of common sense in the application of those procedures, as Ed argues, but the procedures themselves.

TSA screening procedures focus on the device, the means of attack, rather than the attacker himself. The myriad ways al Qaeda has dreamed up to deliver the explosives to their targets (shampoo, shoes, ladies’ lingerie, breast and rectal implants) have lead the TSA to increasingly invasive and outrageous efforts to find the weapon. And with each new means of attack, our response is yet another regulation that annoys and humiliates.

Let’s face it: while these procedures are incredibly effective against little old ladies in wheelchairs and young children, they don’t seem to be all that good against potential terrorists on a dry run.

What would be much more sensible and less intrusive would be the dread “P-word:” profiling. By looking at patterns of behavior indicative of a potential terrorist, we would concentrate on the person, not the weapon, an approach the Israelis have shown to be very effective.

The Transportation Safety Administration is in need of serious reform if it is to be able to actually carry out its mission, which, the last time I checked, was to make air travel safe, not leave innocent people crying.

And if it can’t be reformed, then it should be abolished and replaced with something that can do the job.

UPDATE: Courtesy of International Liberty, here’s video of Senator Rand Paul, who’s rapidly becoming a favorite of mine, taking a TSA representative to task for these stupid search policies:

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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11 Responses to “Here’s an idea: let’s abolish the TSA – updated”


  1. maddogg says:

    Abolish the TSA? Yeah, I could dig that, and lets add a few: EPA, ATF, DOE come to mind.

  2. maddogg says:

    Oops! How could I forget the IRS? Not an exhaustive list of the need to abolish, but a really nice start.

  3. TexasMom2012 says:

    There is something terribly wrong with a system that targets the disabled rather than profiling and using common sense. I have a knee replacement and also metal in my right ankle. I have been forced to submit to increasingly invasive and humiliating procedures. It is stupid. Why can’t we just pay for a background check? Now our airport here has to wonderful xray scanners. Lovely, as someone who has had thousands of x-rays and will need more in the future, I am so happy over even more radiation exposure! My husband doesn’t see the problem. Of course he has never had to go through these pat downs even though he flies all over the world, including some terrorist nations. Where I get the search EVERY time I fly. Doesn’t make any sense at all.
    A private company offering background checks and being liable for errors would be more efficient, fair and more likely to let the TSA concentrate their inspections on more likely risks!

  4. G. says:

    Can’t abolish them; they are becoming 0bama’s private army, a unionized “civilian force” that he spoke of.


    Just my 0.02c


  5. hogtrashhd says:

    there needs to be undercover agents inside the tsa.. the only complaints I’ve ever heard about were handicapped, older people and very small children… and good looking women.. oh and did I mention they’re ALL white… let’s have some equality here.. let’s see people of color complaining..otherwise this is profiling of the weakest among us.. and purposefully humiliating white people..I know what they’re doing.. the a$$hats.. but I’m not worried.. this will be stopped in 2012..

  6. Bryn says:

    EPA, ATF, DOE, NEA, NEH, NSF, pretty much all government agencies exist to further the interests of the Democrat party, and all need to go.

  7. WarEagle says:

    The problem is not whether the procedures are implemented properly or not. The problem is the procedures are idiotic, intrusive, unconstitutional and ineffective to begin with.

    I am frequently singled out for extra security. Strip searching a 95 year old invalid and a 6 year old child is so far beyond rational that any idiot should know it is wrong. But doing the wrong thing the wrong way is what government does best.

  8. PE says:

    The real solution to airport security is non feasible: outsource the job to the Israelis. Why unfeasible? The opposition of the critical mass of morons driven by politician manipulators.

  9. retlaw says:

    Hogtrash makes a keen observation – “they’re ALL white”. All the kids groped, the colostomy guy, the grannies in wheelchairs.

    They must have to hassle every nth person, but if it’s a minority, they wait for the next white. I’ll bet it’s in the regs.

    This all could have been avoided if the kids had just put a Muslim headscarf on their grandma.

  10. Tawny Jomes says:

    Come on. Americans are so cowed, frightened, & brainwashed they would spread their cheeks to a “monitor” at every stop light without much protest; and the TSA is a government-mandated program in place. What politician will seriously challenge it? Get ready for more humiliation. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

  11. captaingrumpy says:

    Dont you guys know that to the TSA ,it is a competition.They all get together and plan to see who embarrasses people the most.It works on a points system.Getting a 95 yr old in a wheelchair would earn you bonus points.
    Don’t laugh. This is what they do.Then they go out back and laugh their heads off over what they have done.