Saturday, July 11, 2015

Americans have learned to accept the TSA and that’s unfortunate

I used to be an outspoken critic of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration until Tumblr deleted the blog I used to lampoon the agency.
Tumblr, now owned by Yahoo, deleted my three blogs after a questionable copyright infringement claim was brought against one of them in May 2013.
My complaints against the TSA are manifold. The agency took over airport security after 9/11 and has worked to expand its scope to all modes of transportation since then. It has proven to be ineffective in providing security and is a huge waste of government resources. Plus, it oversees itself so it has little accountability.
The TSA also abuses the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with its physical pat-downs and fondling of travelers.
Last month, a Homeland Security Inspector General investigation of the TSA found that airport screeners failed to detect mock explosives and weapons in 95% of tests conducted by undercover agents. (See articles by the Daily Mail and Techdirt.)
The acting administrator for the TSA was reassigned within the Department of Homeland Security after the scandal.
It’s easy to find examples of TSA bad behavior.
Earlier this month, a TSA employee took a picture of the cash in someone’s luggage and tweeted about it online. Her tweet sparked an outrage over her violation of someone’s privacy. (See articles by the Daily Mail and Techdirt.)
In April, two TSA employees in Denver were fired after they used the airport body scanner inappropriately to allow the male worker to fondle male passengers’ genitals. Several passenger rights advocates noted that the workers should have been arrested, not just fired. (See articles by the Daily Mail and Techdirt.)
Also in April, writer Cory Doctorow reported how TSA baggage handlers destroyed his suitcase presumably because they couldn’t open the “TSA-safe” locking mechanism. (See Techdirt story.)
In March, Homeland Security’s Inspector General’s Office revealed that TSA agents allowed a convicted murderer and former member of a domestic terrorist group to pass through an expedited security line. (See Daily Mail article.)
In January, a Pennsylvania architect was detained for 23 hours because he complained that TSA was taking too long to search his bag. Security agents mistook his watch and some Power Bars for a bomb. (See articles by the Daily Mail and Techdirt.)
For one year, I ran a Twitter account called TSA Rants, which documented citizen complaints against the TSA. It ended on Dec. 18, 2012. TSA Rants documented more than 23,000 complaints about the TSA, but only scratched the surface.
It was a fun project but a lot of work. It was featured in articles by TSA News and Alex Jones’ Prison Planet.
For a couple of years, I ran the Tumblr blog Celebrities vs. the TSA. The blog focused on one comical aspect out of many of airport security: TSA screeners patting down and scanning recognizable Hollywood celebrities as if they are potential terrorists.
If that blog was still around, I would have reported on recent humiliating TSA inspections of Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian and Vern Troyer.
Libertarians and others interested in protecting the rights of U.S. citizens continue to protest the TSA and its actions. But I get the feeling most Americans have simply accepted the agency as the new normal. They realize that getting rid of the colossal government agency would be next to impossible.
It’s unfortunate that Americans have lost the will to fight on this issue. Because giving up freedom for security is not a good idea.

Photo: Singer Britney Spears gets scanned at LAX in June.

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