While Gary does a tremendous job summing up my thoughts on the matter while offering pithy commentary, I too want to review a Mom vs. The World blog post, which claims to offer insight on the full body scanner controversy from the eyes of ex-TSA employee Melissa Hammett.
Shall we begin?
First, you need read no further than the title of the post, "Shut Up And Get In The Scanner", to ascertain that the writer possesses what I call the TSA-complex, also known as respect my authoritah!
When I worked in the checkpoint and screened passengers and their carry-on luggage, not only could I see what you had in your carry-on bag, I could see you. I could connect the image on the screen with the passenger. If that didn’t humiliate you then this tiny little naked image shouldn’t either…But sure be offended by the naked x-ray image a person in another room is seeing, don’t worry about the vibrator at all or the other weird and crazy crap in your bag.
I have seen the way parents treat their kids and kids treat their parents in the airport and security checkpoint. A good deal of you should be embarrassed and humiliated by that. I have seen 12 year old girls dressed like Tijuana whores with mommy right next to them dressed the same way. I have seen husbands and wives get into fist fights over who is carrying a bag. I have seen grown men and women throw hissy fits like a two year old child because they were asked to remove their shoes. This is the stuff you should be ashamed of and worried about TSA officers seeing. This is what should make you feel humiliated because trust me, we may be professionals but when you come through the checkpoint with crazy stuff in your bag or acting like an idiot, we are going to talk about you after you leave. Oh hell yes we are. It is going to become the highlight of the conversation at TSA officer gatherings…
Oh and the way some of you dress when you come to the airport, well you might as well be naked.
While I’ll pass on her elephant joke and "Tijuana whore" comment, her point about passengers acting poorly in public is well-taken. But I must ultimately reject her conclusion that we can somehow extrapolate from the fact that some people act poorly the deduction that we should not object to full body scanners. Full body scanners violate the Fourth Amendment, may pose a serious health risk, especially to frequent flyers, and might not even be effective.
After asserting that TSOs act professionally on the job (ROTFL…), she concedes that after hours they love to make fun of the passengers they are supposed to serve. This is true of any job that has to deal with the public, but it reveals an arrogant and condescending attitude that nicely personifies the TSA and its apologists.
Flying is a privilege not a right. As such, it can be and is regulated. Requirements can and are set up to ensure that everyone who flies is safe. If you don’t like it, then don’t fly.
Making a fallacious legal conclusion then throwing up a trite Hobson’s choice, she further illustrates her disconnect from reality by asserting that the TSA ensures that "everyone who flies is safe." What does that even mean? Am I "safe" because the TSA checked me? Later in her posts she admits that perfect safety is unattainable.
We don’t search children just to be an ass to you. Same goes for senior citizens. We search them because the minute we give them a free pass, will be the same minute terrorist organizations start recruiting tiny innocent children and senior citizens to do their dirty work. We know a child isn’t a terrorist today but what happens when word gets out that TSA isn’t going to screen children thoroughly because parents are offended by it? Don’t think for one second these terrorist organization would have a morsel of morality, that they would refuse to use innocent children.
Sorry, I don’t buy it. The loose use of the word "terrorist" and the conclusion that full body scanning and "enhanced" pat-downs are the only way to effectively screen passengers assumes facts not in evidence.
The body scanner is safe for children. There is more radiation emitted into your child when they get an x-ray from the doctor. If you feel x-rays are safe enough for your child then so is the body scanner. You aren’t putting your child through the body scanner every day and several times a day, if that is the case then yeah be concerned but if that is the case you probably have bigger issues going on.
Interesting. The author seems to concede that going through a full body scanner often may pose a health risk. She dismisses this risk for children, but what about travelers like me who go through security checkpoints multiple times every week?
Then a dose of sanity in a section entitled "The Invasive Patdown":
Ok that one is bullshit. It is a terror tactic by TSA to get you to walk through the more thorough body scanner. I can’t defend TSA on this one. I have talked to the TSA officers and it is no more effective than the old pat down procedure. They tested it out with trainers and each other. It is purely a terror tactic by TSA. Shame on TSA and anyone who has to get one should write a complaint in afterward. You still have to get it though if you want to get on the plane. Throwing a fit will not get you out of it.
Well how about that, a former TSA employees admits that her colleagues engage in "terror tactics" and that the latest enhancement to pat-down searches serve no legitimate purpose. Can anyone defend TSA’s new pat-down procedure or argue that it is not merely a retaliatory measure for passengers who avoid full body scanners?
TSA is the most hated government agency. TSA officers are very aware of that fact. We get that some of you come through and even though you hate it, you suck it up and do what you have to do. Then there are some of you who intentionally make things difficult. Screw you and stop it. It is a Federal crime to mess with a TSA officer trying to do their job and you will get arrested. You want to make a point and show your outrage to the world. TSA headquarters is in Virginia. Get on your little bike and ride. Go protest out in front of the headquarters, file your lawsuits, write in your complaints and do your tv interviews but stop messing with the TSA officers trying to do their job.
Maybe when you stop messing with us…
Once you are at the security checkpoint you are on Federal territory and you need to keep yourself in check or you will end up arrested.
And "federal territory"? Well, the law states that you cannot be denied access or use of taxpayer funded facilities without probable cause and due process. A virtual strip search via full body scanners hardly safeguard that guarantee.
Now if you want to fly, suck it up and accept that you have to submit to the security procedures. Yes you think they are stupid or unnecessary but TSA officers and TSA don’t care what you think. They try to make it all warm and fuzzy but they can’t because it is security not a trip to Disney World. Shut up and get in the scanner or don’t fly.
Respect my authoritah!
And then a little disclaimer:
I am not a spokesperson or representative for TSA in any way. I actually have a huge dislike for them and would like to see a good deal a management fired. These are my views and opinions and those of some of my friends and former co-workers who happen to still work for TSA.
I don’t buy this postscript. Would someone with a "huge dislike" for the TSA post a blog entry that largely defends the conduct of most of their employees?
Not surprisingly, the post attracted a lot of comments and the blogger chose to respond to many comments (few of which were charitable).
TSA could definitely take some direction from the head of security for El-Al airlines. In fact, TSA did but the American public didn’t want the same kind of security implemented because once again it infringed on their rights.
If I flew on a regular basis or my child flew on a regular basis the radiation would concern me. We only fly once or twice a year so it is negligible…
I feel for you on the pat down. There is no reason for them to do this invasive pat down. TSA upper management just wants to make people so uncomfortable they will opt for the scanner. It is stuff like this new pat down procedure that makes me ashamed to have even worked for them.
Well there you have it. Do as I say, not as I do…
I worked at the Orlando International Airport and the management that worked their (many have since been promoted to move them out of the public eye) broke EEO laws and were found guilty, sexually harassed female workers (he is still there), falsified payroll documents, covered up blatant incidents of wrong doing, engaged in retaliation against employees who stood up to them, protected and promoted unqualified employees into management positions (they needed their buddies up there with them) and some were just an embarrassment in the way they treated passengers. We also had our share of really shitty employees – a few child molesters (fired eventually), sex scandals, drug and weapon smuggling, theft and some that were just embarrassments for existing in they way they treated passengers (like snickering, purposely holding people just to be an ass, and abusing their authority).
I can’t argue that TSA is mainly window dressing because really that is what it is. But TSA is mainly window dressing because the American public will never allow them to be a real security force and to be an effective security force. For TSA to really be effective they would have to model themselves like El Al Airlines does but the American public would go nuts. Racial profiling needs to be allowed as a tool, highly trained officers with guns need to be in the mix, interviewing passengers thoroughly and individually, luggage better searched and thorough pat downs used effectively like cops use (not just to harass and terrorize passengers like is being done now).
You can’t have both. You can’t wave the constitution and demand effective security because our US constitution just doesn’t allow for it.
I really don’t like defending TSA but truth is they are trying to stay within the constitution and allow us our freedom and meet the security needs that are needed and the two conflict. Until something gives, TSA is never going to be as effective as it should be. So for now TSA employs the methods they can use. The only methods they can legally use and stay within the laws of our Constitution. A Constitution that was created when a majority of what goes on in the world, not only didn’t exist, it wasn’t even imaginable.
Maybe the US Constitution needs a rewrite to be truly effective at protecting us as a people and country into today’s world. I think our founding father’s would have written a very different Constitution today but yet we still rely on a Constitution that was written by good men in a very different time.
I am a former TSA screener, I no longer work there. However, if I did and it was part of my job then I would do it. I would register my complaint about the procedure but I would still do my job. When I did work there, I did raise concerns over certain procedures. The problem is a few voices out of 1000+ employees makes no change.
No one trampled on your rights. TSA issued restrictions and you consented to them. If a police officer asks to search your car and you say yes, you don’t get to later complain he trampled on your rights. TSA is asking to search you and you are saying yes.
You also discuss rights versus privileges. Driving is a privilege. How would you like it if every time you wanted to drive a government safety officer required you to prove that you were sober, that you were rested enough to stay alert, that your footwear was appropriate, and that you and your passengers were properly buckled and car seated? Would those hassles be OK because driving isn’t a right?
It may surprise you to know that I am actually suing TSA in Federal Court. They blatantly abuse laws relating to employees. The abuse EEO laws and FOIA laws. They made up their own laws and then made it where it is nearly impossible to challenge them. I do stand up for my rights and the rights of my co-workers which is why I am no longer there.
I am not out to “protect” TSA. It is the TSA officers that are in the airports that I worry about. It is the officers that have to implement all these rules and enforce all the stuff the people at the top of TSA coming up with.
She’s suing the TSA?
Okay that’s enough. You can read the highlights of her argument above or read her words directly from her blog at the link above. This is the mindset that permeates the TSA sub-culture. Here we have a woman who witnessed corruption and is even suing her ex-employer, yet she has no qualms with full body scanning–unless you have to go through it more than twice a year. The pat downs are bad, but we should bend over anyway because the TSA is in charge and that’s just the way it is. It’s your choice to fly, which is a privilege by the way, and you surrender all objections when you choose to fly instead of walk or drive. Security isn’t perfect, but the public demands security theatre so the TSA can get away with anything, including cavity searches if necessary.
I can’t believe someone would make this argument. Devoid of logic, much like the TSA itself, Ms. Hammett makes a fool out of herself. And I’m not surprised.
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