Rants Against the TSA

by on November 17, 2010 · 25 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Popular, Reader Rant, San Diego

It’s that time, boys and girls, to unroll the rants about our favorite federal agency, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA):

Rant #1 – “Nanny State” vs. Police State

by Annagrace

Pilots and frequent fliers have hunkered down and refused to go through these scanners. There are t-shirts to be bought heralding the fact that “I have been groped by TSA.” I am personally ready to swear off flying ever again. I cannot bear to once again drive to the airport an hour and a half before my flight, remove all of my jewelry and place it in my purse, stand in line to pass through security, remove my shoes, wonder if I can take a cigarette lighter and bottle of unopened water, then stand with my legs spread and my arms outstretched because I am being “virtually searched” by a full body scanning machine that may be deemed really really bad for our health in the near future. I don’t like the way it feels right now- to be frisked. My send through bag is always examined- I am always left a formal advisement to this effect. Is someone truly going to tell me that this is the cost of freedom?

War against terrorism? I don’t believe one word of it. This is the lucrative fear industry at work, which feathers its own nest quite nicely at the public expense. Fear is good business. How much do those scanners cost, how many of them have been sold, where are they being used? Who makes them? And who in our government has opened his or her arms to this brave new world?

The OBRag website gets comments from people decrying the “nanny state.” Damn few of these same commentators express concern about the police state. The homeland security cameras on the OB pier. Verizon- which is the City’s preferred provider- listening to and turning over our private conversations to the government without a warrant.

I frankly do not care that we are ticketed (nanny state!) if we don’t use our seat belts. Use your friggin’ seat belt. I’m an old woman and need to set some priorities in life. I DO care very much about these scanners and the bloated pig that Homeland security has become. Ordinary citizens have been yanked around by the security/industrial/ governmental complex. Spied upon. Humiliated. Our privacy invaded. We pay through the nose with our tax dollars. And the security/industrial/government complex still fucks stuff up. All those warnings about the “Diaper Bomber” and even 9/11 were ignored by top level intelligence. What’s with that?

Of course it is easy to take pot shots at the TSA workers themselves, as is so manifestly shown in the U-T comment section. We are generally willing to lower the culpability bar to those stupid, undeserving people beneath our own exalted, responsible, intelligent station in life. It’s an American tradition to feel infinitely superior to someone else- particularly the poor and marginalized. Never look up at the people making a buck, sinking their assets in offshore accounts, and partying like there is not tomorrow!!!

Rant #2 : A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To Work (or How Much I Love TSA)

by Sarah

I have a titanium knee. It beeps every time I walk through a metal detector. I traveled for a living and flew two to three flights a week. When I took off on my first post-surgery flight with my “I have a metal body part” card in hand I had no idea what I was in for. I hand my cane and my “I’m a bionic” to the TSA agent. I suppose I had a preset expectation, somehow, that the cane, the card, the six week old scar, the fact that the hand-wand only beeped at the knee and my record as a weekly flier for the four previous years would ease my way to the gate. I was horribly wrong. Every flight, every time, no exceptions I had to be hand-searched.

Every single time I beeped, so every single time I got patted down. Sometimes gently and with respect, sometimes gruffly and with embarrassment and sometimes with barely disguised disdain, occasionally with a little bit too much “tenderness”. Mostly, however, it was with a disassociated non-chalance and disregard for any thought other than going by the rules and they treated me as if I were not a person, but a suitcase needing to be swapped for explosives. These employees are not hired to think or to use logic and they didn’t. At best they are competent, at worst they are despicable. I flew two to three times a week and every time I did I was subject to the abuse of the TSA minions.

(Note: Yes, I am sure there are good TSA agents and I’m sure they have nice families and I know there are exceptions and I know that I am generalizing to some degree. However, I reserve the right to rant)

After a run-in with the St. Louis TSA that could have landed me in jail my stress level was through the roof and I had decided to ask for some time off. I needed to finish recovering from the total knee replacement and I needed to stop wanting to stomp of the toes of every TSA agent I passed.

My last trip (no pun intended): As I’m making my way to the security line at the San Diego Airport I was taking a deep breath and preparing myself for the first of what will be six total weekly gropings, the woman in front of me stopped suddenly and I caught my left foot under her trailing roller-bag and went down two times, hard on my “new and improved” knee.

Career over.

If I were the victim type I’d blame TSA. But what the hell, I drove over the hill from Pt. Loma, found OB, parked at the end of the pier and haven’t left.

Well, dear reader, do you have a rant against the TSA? Here’s your chance …. make a comment below.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Old Hermit Dave November 17, 2010 at 10:11 am

The TSA and the Fatherland Security BOZOS are very similar to the CIA, very scary government agencies. A free country should not have any branch of government that doesn’t answer to the people. The secret stuff is pure crap.


Jon November 17, 2010 at 10:58 am

I liked Lewis Black’s take on this issue on the Daily Show. To paraphrase, he said, “In the name of fighting terrorism, we are willing to start two wars, waterboard people, kill civilians with unmanned attack drones, but the one line we won’t cross is our waist-line.” Now don’t get me wrong, I think the scanners are ridiculous, and I will opt for a pat-down (as long as they throw in a free shoulder massage). But we should really take a cue from the Israeli’s on this one. Forget radioactive body-scanners and molestation, just ask good questions.


Abby November 17, 2010 at 11:10 am

The problem with this is that’d have to hire qualified people rather than minimum wage monkeys.

Real security professionals are expensive.


Goatskull November 17, 2010 at 11:31 am

“The problem with this is that’d have to hire qualified people rather than minimum wage monkeys.”

Actually my neighbor who is a TSA employee said she started off at 33 about 3 years ago. Not a lot but definitely higher than minimum wage. I didn’t ask her how much she makes now.


Sarah November 17, 2010 at 11:53 am

$29,131.00 – $43,697.00 /year
Monday, October 18, 2010 to Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Part-Time Permanent
many vacancies – Alpena, MI
Open to All U.S. Citizens and U.S. Nationals.


* Must be a US Citizen or US National; be 18 years old at time of application
* Be proficient in English; have customer service skills
* Dependable & operate with integrity; repeatedly lift/carry up to 70 pounds
* Maintain focus & awareness within a stressful environment
* Meet job-related medical standards and pass background investigation
* See Qualifications and Evaluations for additional requirements.


* Have reached his/her 18th birthday at the time of application submission;

* Be proficient in English (e.g., reading, writing,
speaking, and listening);

* Have a high school diploma, GED or equivalent; OR

* Have at least one year of full-time work experience in security
work, aviation screener work, or X-ray technician work.


Abby November 17, 2010 at 12:31 pm

$33K? A qualified security engineer starts at around $100k


Goatskull November 17, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Didn’t say she was a qualified security engineer. Just said she makes above min wage. I also said not by much.


Sarah November 17, 2010 at 11:13 am

Actually, I’m not all that into the two wars, the waterboarding and the killing of civilians, either.

Oddly, I’m probably one of the most security-conscious folks around. I believe in secure borders and safe flights. For years I’ve been advocating Israeli-style security for places like airports, but “they” NEVER listen to me!


annagrace November 17, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I saw Black’s segment this morning too, and felt initially chastened for reacting like a privileged woman, whining about a little airport “inconvenience” all the while unconcerned about water boarding, drones strikes etc. My next reaction was similar to Sarah’s- I’m against water boarding, drone strikes etc and I have made that position clear to our legislators. Repeatedly. And I think Black was off the mark by placing the TSA process in the nanny state model, as opposed to the police state model where it belongs along with warrant-less wire taps, torture, drone strikes etc. etc.
I have also been led to believe that both the UK and Israel have even more intrusive and expansive powers of civilian surveillance than we do. I want to be careful about what I wish for…


Jon November 18, 2010 at 8:57 am

Anna, I know you and I would never accuse you of behaving like a whiny, privileged woman. Uppity? Perhaps. ;)

Obviously Sara, Anna, and the majority of contributors to this blog have strong opinions regarding the wars, waterboarding, et al… The OB Rag has also been great at keeping those issues front and center. And you both make excellent and more articulate “rants” than Black’s. I just think the point Black was making, and what I enjoyed about his rant was about the overwhelming attention the mainstream media is paying to this issue, while there are still people losing their lives every day in the name of ??? In Israel, profiling is a big part of their security routine, and I know that would never “fly” here in the states. So our choices are, full body scan, invasive pat downs, or racial/social profiling. hhmmmm…..I think I’ll drive to Arizona this xmas. (Oh yeah, they now have at least 3 border checks with drug-sniffing dogs along the route to AZ. Damn police state.)


annagrace November 18, 2010 at 9:46 am

Hey Jon- a wink and a nod backatcha! Your point is well taken about the trivia that is served up ad nauseum in the news while the really big issues fall off the radar. I guess I’m still not willing to put the TSA guidelines into the trivia category. Look at how many women have weighed in on this issue. I think that is significant. We tend to have an immediate visceral reaction when the privacy and safety of our bodies are felt to be at stake.

What are our choices? That’s a good question. I’m hoping there are more than the ones you detailed. Germany recently had a high terrorist alert. Spain had a terrorist attack. What’s it like in an airport in Germany or Spain? I don’t know, but I am curious. I do think the enhanced TSA procedures should be eliminated from the choices we now face.

Sign me “Stubborn and Uppity” :)


Sarah November 18, 2010 at 5:24 pm


Your point is well-taken. Bill and I were just talking about that very thing this morning over coffee.

It is my hope that this is the “thing” that wakes us ALL up to what we’ve been doing for so long. We have been smiling and nodding and protesting wildly about whatever the media puts in front of us and all along the issues have been devisive. Finally, we have a unifying cause.

The resistance to the intrusive nature of TSA seems pretty much bi-partisan from what I can tell. (and those who know me know I’m right there on the pulse of mainstream media… what’s a DVR, anyway?) What many of us have endured for years, all the rest of the country will get to experience as well. No matter how you feel about security you’re going to rethink it about the twentieth time a TSA agent feels up the inside of you thigh.

I’ve wondered what it would take to wake people up long enough to make something change. Maybe this is just the thing.

Or… perhaps it’s a ruse. “They” are actually behind the whole thing, invading a few countries and making shady deals with China while we’re distracted about federal employees groping a few butts.


Obese Male November 17, 2010 at 2:57 pm

They can scan me all they want ;-D


Tony November 17, 2010 at 9:09 pm

If you don’t like it take a bus, train or charter jet.


Sarah November 18, 2010 at 8:57 am

Tony –

Exactly the choice I made. Thanks for the advice that I’d not thought of before.



JEC November 18, 2010 at 8:42 am

If I don’t like it? What’s that, foolish mindless behavior? Micheal Chertoff is a principle lobbyist for the maker of these machines. Imagine if you were a maker of policy for the nation and you decide to submit the traveling population – usually the best and brightest of the nation – to a billion plus exposures each year. I’m sure after sale support is gold plated, but in large enough volume malfunctions will occur. It’s a machine, with software (seen digital TV lately?) Also imagine if there will be an end time for this policy. There is now in TSA’s mind – this is permanent. Imagine a 13 year old today – in 20 years – at the peak of their child bearing – will have had the additional exposure of about 80-100 chest x-rays. Remember the medical scanning business? Find those tumors, see the cancer, get a full-body scan for $1,200. Problem, it was determined getting those scans increased your chance of getting cancer. Life is a constant struggle of risk avoidance. We measure the risk to the benefit. We seek options to reduce the risk, if options exist. In this case they do. Israel has been the gold standard for airport security for years. They have rejected these machines as ineffective for their intended target – plastics explosives. How ever you spell it, to Tony or others who reject those protesting, TSA policy has managed to alienate a large portion of the public. They have declared us the enemy and we are responding. On, Tony, to any location less than 1,000 miles I drive – but then DHS has roadblocks across the interstates and are using dogs to search everyone and they’ve already set the sights on trains.


Seth November 18, 2010 at 8:24 pm

I think there are terrorists who’d gladly blow up some of our planes if they could. I say grope away.


Sarah November 18, 2010 at 8:38 pm

IF groping were effective, Seth, I’d agree with you 100%.

It’s not.


Abby November 19, 2010 at 9:17 am

The TSA hasn’t caught a single terrorist. This isn’t going to help.


Rwolf November 20, 2010 at 11:54 am

Could TSA Black Ball Americans Using All Forms Of Public Transportation?

A song titled, TSA Boots Are Going To Walk All Over You, might make a great sequel to Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Going To Walk All Over You.”

TSA’s mistreatment, humiliation and general abrasive handling of Americans at airports, may be a portent to Americans (next) getting a Boot in their face if they refuse to be stripped searched, molested or x-rayed before boarding—any form of public transportation; bus, train, cruse ship. It is obvious TSA intends to extend its reach beyond airports; that TSA will blackball Americans from using other forms of public transportation, including preventing Citizens from driving beyond highway checkpoints, for alleged security reasons. TSA appears headed toward shutting down Americans’ Right To Travel Freely in their own Country.

The Nazis used national emergency as a premise to repeatedly target, search and detain Germans boarding or taking trains considered political dissidents or morally unfit; Citizens were intentionally delayed by police/military so they would be late or miss work. As a result many Citizens lost there jobs and could not survive.

TSA’s physical searches of air passengers’ private body parts, is intimidating passengers to submit to x-rays scans. Continued Low Radiation Exposure is Accumulative and believed to cause Cancer. Americans need to draw a line in the sand; Boycott airlines: that would get TSA’s attention and stockholders of airlines. Meanwhile, not just pilots and flight attendants, “ordinary air passengers” should also be afforded privacy when physically searched at public airports.

The government intends to invade your bedroom. The government purchased hundreds’ of X-Ray Vans that will travel our streets without warrants, x-ray scan, see Americans naked when walking, standing, riding their bike and may—retain your scan-photos.

Government/police will use x-ray vans to peer though Citizens’ homes and vehicles, exposing Americans and their families to radiation; government will view Citizens in their bedrooms. Americans need to ask Obama if independent studies were conducted to determine if Citizens could develop Cancer, if (repeatedly bombarded) by police X-ray scans. It is expected government/police with or without a warrant, will repeatedly X-ray scan a person of interest, in his or her home.

Obama’s X-Ray Vans can ALSO be used by the military or police to secure perimeters to control civil unrest and instances of revolt, to screen and stop Citizens carrying guns, cameras; any item. Does Obama expect Americans to revolt?


Frank Gormlie November 21, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Rwolf – “Obama’s X-ray vans”? Yeah, blame him for the security state set up by the military-industrial-complex.


Marilyn Steber November 21, 2010 at 9:10 am

Does Obama expect Americans to revolt?
Nah, we didn’t revolt when the Supremes were complicit in the coup of 2000. We didn’t revolt when Shock and Awe was raging in Bagdad while the oil men warned against blowing up oil refineries. We watched that as though it was just another fireworks display. We didn’t revolt when Wall Street collapsed and the Bushies “rescued the world economy”.
Nah, we will not revolt.


Sarah November 21, 2010 at 3:41 pm

I think that about the third time a person is put through this humiliation they will begin to feels the seeds of revolution take root. About the fifth time, they will actually begin to feel the rage. About the tenth time they’ll revolt.

I hope. It took me about forty times. My job was dependent on my willingness to be patted down by strangers. People didn’t “get it”, believe me. They DID NOT understand why I was getting progressively more and more upset. Would I rather be at risk of terrorism? Was I un-American? Was I unwilling to do my part? Who did I think I was to be exempt? Basically, it wass “suck it up, Sarah” or find a new job.

Maybe now “they’ll” get it. Maybe our (mostly) common sense of human modesty will be the thing that wakes us up to our decaying rights. We absolutely must ensure that the frequent flier lines and the first class lines are being sent to the xray scanners along with the common folk. As long as the rich women with breast implants, the wealthy men who support them and the heads of corporations have to be humiliated along with the rest of us, well, I think maybe this may just be the catalyst.

I can hope.


Marilyn Steber November 21, 2010 at 5:21 pm

The 4th amendment to the Constitution guarantees us the right to be secure in our persons, etc. and has that part about “unreasonable Searches and Seizures”. Is that like “Reasonable Doubt” of a person’s guilt?
What does “unreasonable” mean in today’s understanding of the word?
I don’t wish anyone to be groped unless there’s a reason to believe I would have a bomb strapped to my body.
Do we relinquish our 4th amendment rights when we travel?
Do we have a right to travel?
Sign me
Confused in OB.


Frank Gormlie November 21, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Marilyn, the Fourth Amendment today has so many exceptions, that the exceptions have swallowed up the law itself. There is the “airport” exception, the “border” exception, the “in plain view” exception, the “automobile” exception, the “exigent circumstances” exception, the probation and parole exceptions, and one of my favorites – the “would have been found anyhow” exception.

Certain rights have been relinquished when we travel. If we travel by car – then we can be pulled over without a warrant and searched if there’s probable cause. So, if you’re in your car or truck or motorhome – you do not have the same 4th amendment protections as you do while in your home. If you try to cross an international border, you give up your 4th.


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