TSA

Even the New York Times Thinks the TSA Is Annoyingly Useless

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TSA
Wisconsinart:dreamstime

On Sunday, the editorial page of the New York Times called out the Transporation Safety Administration (TSA) for its security theater hassles at our nation's airports:

The chance of dying in an airplane is vanishingly small. The chance of being killed by a terrorist in an airplane is smaller still. Mark Stewart, a civil engineer who studies probabilistic risk, has put the odds at one in 90 million a year. Looking at these figures dispassionately, one might wonder if the Transportation Security Administration has found the right balance between safety and convenience with its notoriously burdensome airport screening procedures.

No need to wonder; the answer is NO.

The Times then properly goes after the TSA's new PreCheck system that aims to marginally speed up security lines for those American who consent to being fingerprinted and pay $85 for a five year dispensation:

PreCheck will provide a measure of relief for anyone who signs on. But it is absurd for the T.S.A. to demand background checks and fingerprinting for what amount to small modifications in the screening routine. The agency could relax airport security for everyone without gravely endangering the traveling public.

The former head of the T.S.A., Kip Hawley, has argued that the agency should allow passengers to carry on all liquids, in any quantity. As a safeguard against explosives, passengers would simply have to put their liters of Evian in gray bins and pass them through scanners. Mr. Hawley sees reasons for keeping footwear checks, but those, too, are of questionable value. Passengers do not remove their shoes in the European Union, or even in Israel, one of the world's most security-conscious countries, with a famously stringent screening process.

It is time to stop pretending that annoying protocols like these are all that stand between us and devastation. The most effective security innovation post-9/11 was also the simplest: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, which has made it virtually impossible to hijack an aircraft.

As things stand, the T.S.A. asks its officers to enforce rules of questionable utility while giving them remarkably little discretion; they're more like hall monitors than intelligence personnel. That is a huge waste of human talent and a source of inefficiency. At Heathrow Airport in London, passengers need to remove their shoes only if asked to do so by security officers. Imagine that: a screening agent entrusted with the solemn power to wave through a teenager in flip-flops en route to Honolulu.

I would prefer to imagine that the whole agency is disbanded as a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.

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  1. I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but I’m a little more worried about DHS and NSA than I am the TSA.

    1. TSA is a part of the diseased body that is DHS, and one of the worst parts of that, since DHS uses TSA as an excuse to violate the 4th amendment (going far beyond the administrative search they’re allowed).

    2. You should be worried about the TSA. VIPR teams have moved onto searching bus and train passengers and are trying to get authorization to set up roadblocks.

  2. I would prefer to imagine that the whole agency is disbanded as a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.

    Dream on. The plan with the TSA seems to be build up the infrastructure and bureaucracy and then expand the scope. TSA checkpoints in places other than airports can’t be too far off.

    1. TSA checkpoints in places other than airports can’t be too far off.

      I’ll just leave this here…

  3. The former head of the T.S.A., Kip Hawley…

    Wow, so not only are government officials acting like villains from Atlas Shrugged, now they’re even taking similar names.

    1. Regional IRS director Skim Feeney…

    2. Just wait ’til Kip’s Ma hits the big time. Then we’re all screwed. (Well, you know, more than we already are.)

  4. It is time to stop pretending that annoying protocols like these are all that stand between us and devastation

    It’s also time to stop pretending that government is all that stands between us and devastation.

  5. They can see you nude

    Holy shit! That’s me in the photo. Where did you get that Bailey?

    1. That explains the complete lack of genitalia.

      1. It was a hunting accident.

      2. I thought it was Malibu Ken.

  6. The former head of the T.S.A., Kip Hawley

    Always “former” head. Always “former official”. Ever notice that? The problem is, we “hire” these guys who wave the flag to the detriment of their country, then speak their minds after they leave.

    We’ve got a government of team players. And it’s not helping.

    1. Well, of course, Paul. The government is a TEAM; it is TEAM BE RULED. Only team players will succeed within it.

  7. Everyone, deep down, knows the TSA is completely useless. Even the grandma from Tulsa who nods and superficially makes noise about how they’re “keeping us safe” knows, really knows, how bullshit it all is. But people tend to be lazy and programmed and just go along.

    If you disbanded the TSA right now, today, and got rid of all their bullshit, most travelers would be thrilled, not frightened. What does that say about their belief in any effectiveness of that “security”?

    1. Actually, let’s say a bunch of people did get all up in arms about getting rid of the TSA. Good. Less idiots on a plane is an unqualified good.

      1. The public reaction to the proposal to allow small pocketknives on board was not encouraging.

        1. It wasn’t public reaction, it was the flight attendant’s union’s reaction that was disturbing.

      2. Less idiots on a plane is an unqualified good.

        I am sick and tired of all these motherfuckin’ idiots on this motherfuckin’ plane!

  8. “That is a huge waste of human talent and a source of inefficiency.”

    Agree with the latter. The former part of that sentence, however, is laughable. If the TSA contains “human talent” I would _love_ to know what defines talent in the mind of the NYT.

    1. The human talent wasted is that which had to earn the money wasted on funding the TSA.

    2. You never know; prevented from doing something useless (but politically approved), people often demonstrate an ability to do something that’s actually useful. It’s only when you actively reward stupidity that you get unending stupidity.

      That’s why I’m a libertarian; absent interference, I believe stupidity is self-limiting, whereas intelligence is self-rewarding.

  9. 9/10 thinking!

    1. Wasn’t Chris Christie appointed a federal prosecutor on 9/10?

  10. “That is a huge waste of human talent and a source of inefficiency.”

    I believe this applies to just about every government endeavor.

    1. The problem I have with that line is that I don’t think the TSA is really wasting all that much human talent.

      1. Notice how much more pleasant mall cops are these days….?

  11. Good luck getting rid of this elephant – they are unionized and worse than ever

  12. They always say its for your own safety – but if you did a test at any airport and allowed people to get on planes to way they used to prior to TSA- I guarantee very few would opt for the “added security” of a TSA screening

    1. Especially the terrorists.

  13. I would prefer to imagine that the whole agency is disbanded as a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.

    Don’t you know what that would do to GDP?

    1. In the middle distance without my glasses, I thought that said “GOP”.

    2. You mean force thousands of really bright people to do something that’s actually useful? The horror! Oh, the huge manatee!

    3. I came here to say precisely this.

      We’d lose at least eight billion a year in worker salaries and drive up unemployment in one fell swoop–all of the wealth and aggregate demand created by the TSA would be irretrievably lost, like water boiling out of a heated pot.

      You glibertarians obviously understand nothing at all about economics.

  14. It wasn’t public reaction, it was the flight attendant’s union’s reaction that was disturbing.

    Exactly. If by “disturbing” you meant “utterly predictable”.

  15. The most effective security innovation post-9/11 was also the simplest:

    The passengers now routinely come to the defense of the plane, and overcome the would-be hijackers.

  16. This is purely academic. If we couldn’t even roll back the pocket knife ban without freaking out the aircrew types, who in the hell thinks the TSA is going anywhere anytime soon…

  17. The most effective security innovation post-9/11 was also the simplest: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, which has made it virtually impossible to hijack an aircraft.

    They forgot to mention the gun in the cockpit…ohh yeah, NYT…nevermind

    1. Yep, we can trust this guy (frequently a military vet) with hundreds of lives and a 200-ton flying bomb (aka a jetliner), but give him a .38, and he turns into a crazy, trigger-happy cowboy. Ya gotta love the totemism. (Guns are eeeee-vil! Their mere presence makes people ca-razy!)

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