50 Shades Of TSA


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We’re just shy of fifteen years into the Global War On Terror. While the law of averages says the next fifteen will yield better results, at this juncture simply being allowed to keep our shoes on when boarding a plane seems like a major victory.

No serious person expected this war to be won in less time than it takes to fire TSA serial gropers (i.e., three months). But at least the consolation for participating in this airport kabuki was knowing that the terminal and plane was free of guns, makeshift explosives and excessive concentrations of toothpaste. Now we learn that the head of the TSA has been “reassigned” after covert tests conducted by the agency’s inspector general found that screeners at airports failed to detect prohibited items 95 percent of the time.

As a frequent flyer all adult life, I am still unaccustomed to the overtly sexual overtones of airport security. FAA regulations and TSA shenanigans make the Kama Sutra seem like a primer for air travel. Whether it’s back-of-the-hand pat-downs, genital-revealing body scanners or the ever-present cry of “female assist”, it’s no wonder Americans are increasingly taking family vacations the old-fashioned way: in a car.

As a frequent flyer I can’t help but notice that boarding a plane feels increasingly like being admitted into prison. Having presented your paperwork (boarding pass), you are sternly instructed to remove your shoes, watch and belt (lest you succumb to the understandable temptation to hang yourself).

And there you are, standing between two other poor souls suffering the same plight: holding in one hand a tray with all your earthly possessions and the other hand, your pants.

Meanwhile, those travelers already in the terminal are watching you and chanting “Fresh fish! Fresh fish! Fresh fish!”

Maybe I exaggerate on that last part but you get the idea.

Exit question: How long before the TSA begins delousing entering their pretend-secure area?

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  1. captainpower Inactive

    Brian Clendinen:If one Large filled passenger plane was bombed by Terrorist every year

    Since the TSA was instituted in response to 9/11 where planes were hijacked and crashed into skyscrapers, this hypothetical seems underimaginative.

    • #31
  2. skipsul Inactive

    Brian Clendinen:If one Large filled passenger plane was bombed by Terrorist every year (world wide) flying would still be safer than dieing from Road Rage. Over 300 people each year die or are seriously injured form Road Rage in America. Expand that to the first world nations and flying is still safer with one successful terrorist attack per year.

    So if having an airport security system were only bags were scanned and this only resulted in 2 or 3 plane losses every decade from terrorist attacks on American planes. I would find that a complete acceptable trade off. It would still mean flying was a lot safer dieing from hitting an animal and about as dangerous as getting killed from road rage.

    The problem with this line of reasoning is that it does not take into account distributed versus concentrated impact.  Car wrecks affect only a few people at a time and, when they happen, tend to be survivable.  Given the number of cars on the road, they are not preventable.

    Plane wrecks wipe out hundreds (or on 9/11 thousands) of people at once with almost no chance of survival.  There are far fewer planes than cars, and thus they are easier to control in terms of maintenance and security.  People thus fear plane wrecks far more than car wrecks.

    • #32
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