TSA Continues to Half-Defend "Cookie Cutter" Screening Procedures


For the second time in as many months, the TSA has admitted publicly that its non-negotiable screening procedures are really just security theater. After a picture surfaced of two smiling TSA agents patting down a diapered baby, "Blogger Bob" at the TSA Blog wrote that "the child's stroller alarmed during explosives screening. Our officers followed proper current screening procedures by screening the family after the alarm." A Drudge headline asked if the TSA was checking for "poop bombs." Blogger Bob answered that the TSA was not: "The child in the photo was simply receiving a modified pat-down which doesn't even come close to what the headline implies."

And then he went on to write this: 

You may have read recently that our Administrator is looking into ways to move past the cookie cutter approach to screening. Recognizing that terrorists are willing to manipulate societal norms to evade detection, TSA has been actively assessing less invasive screening methods for low-risk populations, such as younger passengers, while still maintaining a high level of security.

Blogger Bob wrote the same thing after video surfaced in April of a TSA agent patting down a 6-year-old, but only after defending the agent who did the petting patting: 

Some folks are asking if the proper procedures were followed. Yes. TSA has reviewed the incident and the security officer in the video followed the current standard operating procedures.

All this in the face of Rep. Jason Chaffetz's recent pronouncement that said conduct is in "clear violation of TSA's explicit policy not to conduct thorough pat-downs on children under the age of 13." But never mind the inconsistency in application; inconsistency in PR is even more mind-boggling. Here's DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano defending pat-downs in a November 2010 op-ed in USA Today: 

Pat-downs have long been one of the many security measures used by the U.S. and countries across the world to make air travel as secure as possible. They're conducted by same-gender officers, and all passengers have the right to request private screening and have a traveling companion present during the screening process.

The deployment of this [back-scatter x-ray machines] and the implementation of these measures represent the evolution of our national security architecture, an evolution driven by intelligence, risk and a commitment to be one step ahead of those who seek to do us harm. [Emphasis added.]

Let me see if I have this right: The TSA's "cookie cutter" approach to screening, which terrorists can "manipulate" to "evade detection," is the product of "intelligence, risk and a commitment to be one step ahead of those who seek to do us harm." 

That doesn't sound right. 

NEXT: McCain: Torture Didn't Get Us Bin Laden, and It Would Be Wrong Anyway

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  1. “an evolution driven by intelligence” Even evolution gave us the platypus, so it’s not a foolproof process.

    I have to fly to Philly in early June and damnit, the inner troll in me is just looking for various ways to annoy TSA while also limiting the amount of freedom-fisting I get. T-shirts with the 4th Amendment in metallic ink are sold out so that plan got shot.

    1. Bring a 3/4″ long GI Joe toy rifle.

    2. Bring a copy of the Constitution: insta-domestic-terrorist-listing.

      1. A while back I toyed with the idea of marketing small American Flags to stick in your butt crack. Travelers could do so moments before the TSA search. If anyone steals this i’ll sue. The beauty of the idea is watching the conservatives go crazy over the Flag in the crack, and how the “FLAG” is being demoralized while they justify a full on cavity search for the populace.

        Other flight packs would also have the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and for our British friends the Union Jack.

        1. Only one one thing to say about your post –

          “Oh my, what a maroon.” – Bugs Bunny

  2. I’m glad to see that Baghdad Bob has found new employment as Blogger Bob.

  3. Anyone could be a terorist.

    1. Spelling doesn’t count in horshoes or hand grenades?

      1. hehehe, horseshoes, terrorists, fine I’ll go back to work.

  4. Make sure to fling insults at the TSO’s at the checkpoint. You still have 1st amendment rights, but no threatening or yelling. Just tell them their wife and kids must be proud of daddy feeling up franks and beans all day long for a living. This is one of the only legal ways to “get even”…
    “What does my dad do for a living?”

    1. I would recommend scheduling extra time before your flight takes off before trying this.

      Maybe I’m wrong, but this might result in you being “randomly” selected for extra screening.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for every single person going through the TSA checkpoints insulting those bastards, but do you really think this may not get retaliated against?

  5. “”the implementation of these measures represent the evolution of our national security architecture, an evolution driven by intelligence””

    Huh, intelligence = paranoia and stupidity. That’s government for ya.

  6. I was thinking of this the other day: All it takes is for some low-level terrorist wannabe on the other side of the world to send an email to a buddy mentioning it would be cool to blow up trains or smuggle something in a shampoo bottle or whatnot, and every intelligence and security agency in the US goes into freak-out mode. I’m not sure that counts as evolution.

    1. Now that the feds got all our old plans from Osama’s computer, we had to scrap those and come up with new ones. Right now, the most feasible strategy we’ve developed is to have an agent disguised as a proctologist hide a small nuclear device deep inside a yet-to-be-determined Senator’s colon. We’ll detonate it on a plane or session of Congress or something.

      Don’t tell anyone, though. If the TSA throroughly explores every Senator’s cavities before every flight or attempt to enter Capitol Hill, they might thwart our evil scheme!

  7. Well, they’re trying to stay one step ahead of terrorists in harming us (Dubya explicitly said as much), which entails putting us at risk, and in the same sense that commerce means the absence of commerce, “driven by intelligence” can mean driven by lack of intelligence.

    1. I’m pretty sure that Napolitano is using “intelligence” in this context to refer to information gathering, not the IQ of people developing the policies.

  8. “a commitment to be one step ahead of those who seek to do us harm” = “a commitment to being even more invasive than terrorist attacks are”.

  9. There was never any credible evidence of a plan to use “terror babies” to murder anyone, but Gohmert propagates the fear.

    Please join us at Boycott Flying on Facebook, where we’ve been following the TSA charade for several months.

  10. But what if hell somehow freezes over and smokin hot babes start working for the TSA, can I request a pat-down from them

    1. Smoking hot babes have better career options — like marrying a rich man. Or becoming a model.

  11. This won’t stop until people refuse to fly. Not poor people looking to see family, but business travelers, refusing to fly, telling their employers and the airlines to go fuck themselves.

    The procedures are a complete joke. They have no procedure to catch a “butt bomb”, and the liquid restrictions make no sense – if 1 terrorist can’t get enough liquid through security for a bomb, they’ll just have a few stooges carry smaller amounts through security and combine them past the checkpoint. Nothing they’re doing is making us safe. Everything they’re doing is dragging down the economy and wasting taxpayer dollars. I find it sickening that more conservatives aren’t up in arms over this.

    1. You keep forgetting one fantastic little detail: Some airports let their TSA officers through checkpoints with the wave of a hand. Sometimes even without checking their ID first. That wouldn’t be as disconcerting, if it weren’t for news like this: http://www.nbc11news.com/home/…..71524.html

      I was trying to root through the renewed youtube search function to find a video of a news clip, where they show footage of TSA officers arriving at work and being waved through the checkpoints with backpacks and all unchecked. I’ve been doing security for years and am familiar with a multitude of security protocols and their hows and whys, including military, private security, as well as the official airport security protocols (I’m in another line of work, and a mom these days)…

      So from a strictly theoretical point of view… A TSO makes about 47-50k a year, if I remember correctly. I’m fairly sure there are at least a couple with a big family, a mortgage with payments running late, the spouse with the better paying job may have lost their job and so on and so such. It is likely, that at least a few are willing to compromise their loyalty to the agency and their country, if someone offers to make sure they’ll be bailed out of financial turmoil and able to retire for a comfortable life in the future, if they deliver a package past the checkpoint to either a person, or a pre-agreed upon dead drop spot.

      A lot of harmful objects can fit into a backpack. So this worries me more than my toddler deciding to do something naughty. Like punch a guy caught trying to touch her in the groin, just like Mommy taught her… Most often, it’s the passengers who are the more vigilant, as it’s them doing the travelling, not the security officers.

      Some TSOs I’ve had dealings with during the past months have been outright darlings, keeping my property from being stolen when 20ish clone-like Asian flight attendants were expedited through the scanner behind me, but before my luggage… It was an unnerving 15 minute wait, no shoes, no papers, no garments that’d have kept me warm if I’d have had to go outside… The guy at the checkpoint exit went over and made sure my items were still in the bin. If all TSA staff members acted like that, in stead of yelling at passengers as if they were retarded, which ends up yielding opposite from desired results almost every time, and stopped herding people like cattle, the entire security checkpoint experience would be very different.

      (My frequent flyer mile account just bumped up to the next bonus level, so I’m sadly too familiar with airport screening…)

  12. Searching children is disgusting. But I hope it doesn’t lead to “children off limits, adult have no rights.” I’d prefer the TSA fix their security theater stat.


  13. If you are under the impression that this is inconsistent, you aren’t looking at it from their point of view.
    These are socialists/ bureaucrats. If they ever fix a problem, where will their jobs be? They’re going to do whatever they want and then they’re going to tell you whatever will make you go away.

    And the day something big goes bad, they’ll say it’s because they don’t have enough money and power and they’ll get their congresscronies to give them more.

    1. Full points for that post Lark.

  14. I was very pleased to learn from your letter (gov.au) that security and safety remain the Australian Government’s key priorities. However, I respectfully suggest to your Department that the objective of a society’s well-being should also be added to those priorities. You may have noted that those in strong opposition to body scanners call the devices, ‘naked body scanners’. This is because the operator of the device strips your outer clothing from view and thereby a person’s last line of defence against the peering eyes of a stranger evaporates.
    In other words, through advances in technology the science fiction of Superman having X-ray vision is now a reality. However, unlike the comic books in which Superman does not allow his power to corrupt him and he rarely resorts to using this power to see people naked, the reality of true life as prescribed by your Department as being necessary for our security is quite different. It is for this reason that we have words like ‘Orwellian’ that describes the situation, idea, or societal condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free society. The word connotes an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, and the denial of truth. Another word often linked to ‘Orwellian’ is ‘Fascism’. With reference to a worldwide trend that is beginning to show itself here in Australia, as soon will be outlined below, the form of fascism I am concerned about is that described by the famous American political scientist and historian Robert O. Paxton when he wrote about government policies being generated because of an obsessive preoccupation with ‘Victimhood’ i.e. for our time in history 9/11.

  15. There needs to be more coverage on “Israelification”, how airports like Ben Gurion in Tel Aviv, Israel are conducting security. If a passenger can’t get from the parking lot to the gate in under 30 minutes, they consider there to be a problem…

    Less invasive, and thorough, with extra precautions put in place, so you don’t have to evacuate all of a terminal if a suitcase sets off the bomb alarm, just the blast-proofed screening room.

    I’ve experienced JFK in New York being evacuated, and I can tell you, it was chaos, staff were panicking more than passengers, and there was no information on where to go, how to get there, and when the situation was declared “over”. They say it doesn’t happen at Ben Gurion.

    To know of something better makes people want something better. Try get Rafi Sela to give you an interview that updates the information he gave The Star in 2009. http://www.thestar.com/news/wo…..tle-bother

    Spread the word of some common sense.

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