Apparently, you now have three options at the airport: 1) Full body xray scan which a) takes nudie pics of you and stores them; and, b) may or may not later cause cancer; 2) An “enhanced” patdown; whereby, a TSA agent gets to second base (thirteen second mark – wtf?) without buying you dinner; or, 3) Threatened with a civil lawsuit for telling a TSA agent that you’ll call the police if he touches your “junk.”

Yay for security theatre!

Next Wednesday, the busiest flying day of the year, is National Opt-Out Day whereby you refuse the nudie cancer scan and opt for the groping. In all honesty, the nudie pic doesn’t bother me as much as the groping, but considering my family history of skin cancer and the fact that I fly three to four times a year, I’m going to pass on the radiation.

The U.S. Senate has scheduled an oversight committee hearing for Wednesday. The Democrats seriously need to get in front of this issue and tell Obama and the TSA to fuck off.

If you don’t shop, the terrorists have won.. so, here are two fun items: 1) Flying Pasties – Cover your naughty bits with fun rubber sayings so that the TSA agent can’t actually see anything. But, I suspect you’ll get pulled out of the nudie cancer scan and groped if you try this because the machine will detect a weird object on you. 2) TSA Scan This shirts – I am seriously considering this, but only on my return flight back from Vegas because I don’t want to be labeled a terrorist threat and get stuck in Atlanta.

UPDATE: Per the AJC, “Atlanta’s airport uses millimeter wave technology, bouncing electromagnetic waves — not radiation — off the human body to create a photo negative, TSA’s Allen said.”


81 Responses to Transportation “Security” Administration

  1. bre says:

    Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Advanced Imaging and Body Scans: Information and Resources About Airline Security Procedures

  2. JMPrince says:

    Yep. has a bunch of informative posts on the issue. Some of the Canadian take is here, (useful, informative & amusing as usual, with good links too):

    Including a note on how we might avoid the worst parts of the Security Theater. I’m sure we might come up with more ideas too:

  3. Jules says:

    Couldn’t be prouder of my former state, NJ.

    They aren’t playing… love it

  4. JMPrince says:

    Not answering for the Eds both Amtrak & Greyhound have instituted screening procedures that somehow garner less attention & comment. Been going on for years actually. Not certain if TSA agents are directly involved WRT their Passengers however. Seems to be less intrusive somehow. JMP

  5. JMPrince says:

    How the other half of one percent lives, and how they manage to avoid the issue, mostly:,,

    Many more just fly with friends & family, if they can manage it. But that’s slightly more hazardous too. JMP

  6. PaulaG says:

    Hey Ed,

    Regarding your “don’t like, then don’t fly” argument: what’s stopping the government from implementing this on trains and busses? Or implementing nationwide highway stop and searches that include intrusive pat downs? Just wondering.

    • Delicate Flower says:

      Allow me to answer for Ed (I assume this is what he’d say). The problem is a matter of scale. Holy fuck this shit isn’t hard.

      • PaulaG says:

        Are you saying they won’t do it because it would be too hard? But that they could if they wanted to, and it would be ok?

        • Ed says:

          That’s exactly it.

          Serious reply: I’m not opposed to more security for flying. I’m not in favor of this system, however. But, with flying, as opposed to the other methods of transport you list, the risk and history of terror attacks suggest planes are what you need to secure. Plus, you have everyone going through one or tow doors to get in, it makes it easy/feasible to search people and it isn’t the same as a highway, which is designed for continual motion.

          I’m starting to doubt whether these are honest critiques of an argument I’m not even putting forward.

          • Jen B. says:

            If you’re not in favor of this system, then why are you defending it?

            • Ed says:

              Because I can be in favor of strong security at the airports and not what we have in place?

              Otherwise a good question.

              • Jen B. says:

                Because I can be in favor of strong security at the airports and not what we have in place?

                That’s a perfectly reasonable position and one I think most of us hold. It’s also a position that doesn’t require you to defend the current system.

                • Ed says:

                  I was really trying to say the system wasn’t the assault on liberty/privacy people thought. Somehow I became an apologist 🙁

                  • griftdrift says:

                    A stranger grabbing my private parts is an assault on privacy.

                    • Jules says:

                      After 911 ( December) I was in Orlando for the Women in the Metal Industry annual meeting.

                      The para military guys were running the airport so all the folks going to Disney would feel “safe” whatever the f that means.

                      The machines were set so sensitively that my underwire bra set it off… Two Army guys rushed me and one did a pat down, not a wanding- but with his hands-just like what is described now.

                      He started at my ankles, grabbing them..worked his way up my legs..when he got to my boob-I looked him directly in the eye while he had his hand on my boob and said “you plan on buying a drink after this”. Dude left his hand there while he processed that I wasn’t a terrorist.

                      Afterward his buddy, who witnessed this whole thing-finally told him it was a joke. I winked at them both as I walked off…. Seriously you didn’t want to mess with me in my late 30’s.

                      The gals I was traveling with were completely sure I was about to be renditioned somewhere unspeakable.

          • PaulaG says:

            “But, with flying, as opposed to the other methods of transport you list, the risk and history of terror attacks suggest planes are what you need to secure.”

            If this is what you believe, then you don’t seem to be paying attention to the what has been happening in other parts of the world for many years. See, e.g.,

            And you most certainly are suffering from a lack of imagination. As my internet boyfriend Bruce Schneier points out, if terrorists are swayed from going through airports, they’ll just target other locations, such as a hotel in Mumbai, India.

            But, since you aren’t really defending the current system, I guess I don’t need to argue with you about it anymore. I’m all for good, effective airport security (see my above comment linking to the article about Israel), but ineffective, expensive, invasive security theater protects no one. Except, I suppose, the people who sold the TSA the scanners. Those guys are making out like bandits.

            • Ed says:

              So your honestly going to compare the collective security threat of the world to how we should do things in America? You really don’t see the problem with that? Really? Also considering the most damaging attacks in/against the U.S. and in other countries has been, by and large, via airplanes? (Munich 72, Mumbai hotel and the Japanese sarin attacks are the only non-airplane terror attacks I can think of that have been as bad as whats come from planes).

  7. Drew says:

    I’m still wondering where the cost-benefit analysis for this “security” is. How many lives does the scan-or-grope save? How much money? How much time? If they don’t know, how can they justify the cost? How can they even call it security? It’s ridiculous; it’s like we have a government agency dedicated to finding procedures that violate our rights and spend our money, with the only restriction being that the procedure must sound plausible to a fan of 24.

  8. Tony says:

    Ed, as I was reading through this thread, I pulled out my wallet and reached for a bill. It was a hundred, which of course is perfect for lighting a cigar (or making it rain). Anyway, as I looked on the face of that bill, I was reminded of the saying, “He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.”

    I get your point. If you don’t want to submit yourself to government intrusion, then you have a right to be a recluse.

    Worried about your location being triangulated by the government? Don’t turn on a cell phone.

    Worried about the government monitoring a conversation? Don’t post something on the Internet or use e-mail.

    Worried about ending up on a government watch list? Don’t buy books or have a library card.

    Worried about the government take naked pictures of you or needlessly feel you up? Don’t get on an airplane.

    I guess we just have different views of privacy. If we don’t curtail these types of intrusions, we will eventually end up like England or some other country where you can get stopped and searched for no damn reason at all. That may be okay with you. But, if we don’t safeguard our privacy (and hold a government to its boundaries), then we will lose it as a concept and open ourselves up for abuse.

    By the way, I don’t have a problem with your “stay at home” argument if we were dealing with security that is done at the discretion of the carrier. If Delta told me (before I booked a ticket) that the only way I could get on one of their jets was to pose for porn or have my balls coupled by some random dude whose last job was probably as a sandwich artist, I would fly Southwest. If all the airlines did it, I would resist flying unnecessarily . . . and some industrious airline would probably find a better way to ensure real security (which they could do better than the TSA) and keep some dignity for its passengers. And judging by the airlines’ track record for treating people with dignity, that says a lot about the TSA.

    Sometimes, I just can’t believe this administration . . . .

    • Sara says:

      As the person here who probably has to fly the most, let me just say…

      I am very excited at the prospect of dramatically increasing the number of people who have seen me naked and/or touched my girly parts.

    • Ed says:

      Nice slippery slope and putting words in my mouth. Its also a cute little axiom but as with most maxim (and Franklinisms) it is really just that. A maxim

      • Ed says:

        Also, only a smalltimer would marvel at a C-Note. And smalltimers have no say in government.

        (I’ll actually respond when I don’t have a date looming and a gift to finish up for it).

  9. Jules says:

    Janet Napolitano is a every day walking DFI Fine, the whole thing-from bad haircut to shoes. I can’t take her seriously because of this.. oh and that was snark in case the trolls are all hyper sensitive today

    • Jen B. says:

      Fuck her. It’s not practical to take a canoe to Hawai’i.

      • Ed says:

        The Polynesians will take issue with that.

        • Jen B. says:

          Quote of the Day:

          Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, suggested that it was “sort of insensitive” for Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to say this week that if Americans “want to travel by some other means, of course that’s their right.” That’s not practical for someone flying from Georgia to San Francisco, he said.

  10. Sara says:

    As it is, flights entering the country from outside the U.S. are not guaranteed to have gone through the stringent requirements that TSA is attempting to implement…so why would it be a problem if airports outside the US did not apply this policy?

    It would just mean that folks who fly into the US with carryon luggage and have to change planes while here will need to build in time to check that luggage before they get on their next flight. It could be handled at customs, since people need to go through customs immediately upon arriving in the U.S. anyway.

    And for people flying out of the U.S. to places that might not have this rule, they will have to check their bags to their final destination, or retrieve them at their first stop and switch to carryon.

    • Ed says:

      Because once you land you have to go through security again.

      Edit: NVM not sure what I was trying to say.

      Edit of the edit: TSA (or FAA not sure who makes that call) would probably say you could only fly into the U.S. if and only if this rule is enforced in your country. So the rules would be changed o all flights to make it easier for everyone.

      • Jen B. says:

        That is also fucking stupid. Example: You buy a bottle of Kahlua at airport in Puerto Vallarta. They give it to at the gate. Once you land in Atlanta, airport security tries to get you TO CHECK YOUR BAG BECAUSE THE KAHLUA BOTTLE IS OVER 3oz. Uh, this is my final destination? Does not compute. This is the same trip where T. was randomly pulled out of the line to undergo a special security check for an hour in which they passed his passport from one guy to another while wearing gloves. Thanks, I feel safe now.

        • Ed says:

          All duty free purchases must be done this way. Atlanta also sucks because its international terminal is not seperate from the airport as it is in literally, every other international airport in the US except for one (which was Knoxville or something like that).

  11. PaulaG says:

    This is how the Israelis do it:—israelification-high-security-little-bother

    I love this quote:

    “We have a saying in Hebrew that it’s much easier to look for a lost key under the light, than to look for the key where you actually lost it, because it’s dark over there. That’s exactly how (North American airport security officials) act,” Sela said. “You can easily do what we do. You don’t have to replace anything. You have to add just a little bit — technology, training. But you have to completely change the way you go about doing airport security. And that is something that the bureaucrats have a problem with. They are very well enclosed in their own concept.””

  12. Sara says:

    I’ve been saying for years that the answer to this problem is to not let people carry anything onto airplanes except a purse or laptop bag. Security lines would be much faster, and there would be fewer places to hide anything. Make everyone walk through a metal detector and one of those explosive detector thingees that blows the air around you and tests it immediately but doesn’t give you cancer. Wand everyone if you have to. Do a purse/bag check like at stadiums.

    It wouldn’t a) allow anyone to see you naked, b) allow anyone to touch your tallywhacker, or c) subject you to radiation that someone will later try to convince you might cause cancer.

    Of course, next everyone will whine about the inconvenience of it all. But inconvenience is not a constitutional violation, so…problem solved.

    • Ed says:

      While yes it would work it would only work if applied on literally, every flight worldwide due to country’s domestic travel restrictions.

  13. Ed says:

    Let me just ask, what part of this person’s privacy is violated. We don’t know who it is. We couldn’t figure out who it is. And we won’t know who it is.

    Privacy is violated if information or defining characteristics could easily and accurately be attributed to someone (this is a rough/quick definition. I’ll likely refine it a little)

    This is the best example I can think of right now but in class once we did a sexuality survey. 180 people answered the same questions. The papers were balled up and put into a basket. TA randomly distributed them to people. People stood up to show that that question was answered by the student. Who’s privacy was violated? No ones because NO ONE KNEW WHO SAID WHAT (unless you looked at your neighbors paper but that’s different). And why is that? Because none of the information could be attributed to anyone.

  14. Jules says:

    Yes, I agree about 40 years too late- I’ve always hated it.. but just it’s much worse now, rules are inconsistent depending on what airport you are at and everyone plays along.

    The liquid rule as an example is completely stupid and inconsistently applied.

    TSA gets more money and power playing off folks fear.

    • Jen B. says:

      The liquid rule as an example is completely stupid and inconsistently applied.
      Hell yes. I can’t have a 4oz bottle of lotion, but I can have six 3oz bottles of lotion. WTF is that?

      • Ed says:

        There is a total volume limit, I think 12?

        • Jen B. says:

          There’s no total volume limit. It’s just however much you can shove into your quart sized bag, which is why it’s so fucking stupid.

          • Ed says:

            That is dumb.

            The funny thing is I bring toothpaste and deodorant with me in my carry on.

            Both of which exceed three ounces. Both of which (I’ve been told) need to be in a ziploc and scanned. Both of which remain in my bag. Both of which have never been found.

            • Jen B. says:

              Yeah, it totally depends on who’s doing the screening. I’ve gotten away with a couple 12oz bottles of sunscreen in my carry-on before.

  15. Ed says:

    OK I’m just curious here. If we don’t screen every passenger, how do we determine who we should and should not screen?

    And the concern about automatically being a criminal is about 40 years too late.

  16. Jules says:

    Gotta go with Grift on this one.

    I’m astounded at the way we’ve all become sheep on this issue. Since when is it ok to assume I’m a criminal just for stepping inside of an airport? Why not when I take the train? MARTA, or Amtrack, walk through Times Square? It makes me insane to watch them pat down kids and old people.

    We have a completely f’d up pre-clearance process that allowed the Times Square bomber to nearly leave the county-he got on a plane in NYC for petes sake. Meanwhile we’re all compliant while they increase the level of intrusion.

    Honestly I have driven more, partly because by the time I leave early enough to get through security, sit around, be delayed I could have driven many places in similar time. Obviously 8-10 hours dives assume I have the time, but I likely drove to DC twice as much as I did, just because I didn’t want the hassle.

    Security is big business, and we’ve all decided that we’ll pay for it and give up a whole as well. Don’t even get me started on the ridiculousness of that I saw at the One Nation rally re: security.
    I laughed out loud at that.

  17. griftdrift says:

    I will make this a campaign issue, freedom hater

  18. griftdrift says:

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated”

    The key word there is unreasonable. Grabbing my junk is unreasonable.

    • Ed says:

      It would be if it were the only option available to you or mandatory at the time of screening. It is not.

      • Fred says:

        Passengers do not have a choice. Even if you agree to be scanned, you may be given a pat down anyway if the unseen TSA employee doesn’t like your scan. (See Dave Barry’s recent tale about how he was told he had a “blurred groin”.) You may be forced into a choice that you find unacceptable.

  19. Jen B. says:

    I’ve updated the post to reflect that Atlanta uses the millimeter wave machines not the backscatter one.

  20. JMPrince says:

    Follow the money. The machines? Less ‘effective’ than imagined, promised or expected. Just like the prior gen which were junked at great expense. The fact that Govt minions can now get to giggle like expectant school kids over each cute prospective passenger they can screen/pat down? Well you knew to come to expect all that from the prior administration, right? Their massive & repeated failures means your continued inconvenience and repeated auditioning for cutest whatever in the Security Theater. Why does it not matter to the people that really matter? They fly private now. JMP

  21. Tim Cairl says:

    I’m all for scrapping the current system and coming up with something better

    • Ed says:

      Me too, just not for many of the reasons others want to think matter.

      • Jen B. says:

        Please elaborate.

        • Tim Cairl says:

          I’m not a fan of constantly redoing rules and regulations because someone figures out a way around them. Surely there’s a better way to get people on and off airplanes without long-ass security lines and better cargo screening. This hand-inspected, multi-tiered mess is both tiresome and inefficient.

          • Jen B. says:

            Oh, I totally agree. I just wanted Ed to elaborate on the reasons to scrap the system since they’re for reasons people don’t think matter (or something like that).

            • The Ed is our New Leader says:

              Well if you’re going to be mean about it…

              Really I think people’s fears about civil liberties here are completely overblown. For one, TSA operates on efficiency which, as you can guess, is the wrong way to have security checks. Their screening mechanisms are ineffectual and inefficient to boot. I will say this, they at least as an agency have a very good employee recommendation system that has actually led to a number of good changes (will have to dig it up). Let’s be honest, your one of several thousand coming through every day. You are pretty insignificant in the scheme of things negating the whole patdown scenario unless you intentionally cause a scene just to be an asshole (a la that jackhole in the story or me as I did in the Miami airport a few years ago [Really this is just like any other job. Bankers don’t notice or care if you are depositing 1 cent or 1 million dollars because you are just another schlub coming up to them and their ass just wants to finish up with you and go the fuck home]). Yes I realize that the issue is that TSA can even touch you and I’m on something of a rant/tangent now, but there are options that avoid making physical contact with a TSA agent. You’re choosing the worst one. Also, it is part of the requirement of flying. You know going into the airport you’re going to be subjected to some form of screening. Drive otherwise if you don’t like it. I also had another point about this that was somewhat Utilitarian focusing on end results but I’ve forgotten it. It was very good.

              And the TSA while yeah, they fucked up on the capabilities of the scanners said that feature isn’t activated at airports typically. So they want to keep an anonymous, non-specific scan of my body that won’t be identifiable in anyway, and have it among, conservatively 300 others (hell even 30 or 3 others)? Go to fucking town. I’ve been violated.

              I also think the TSA needs to be divided again, which is fairly common for a governmental agency to be merged, divided and so on, with the screeners being run independently of customs checks and other officers but that’s different.

              There is more to say I guess. Let’s see how little work I want to do.

              • Jen B. says:

                Everything you just said is negated by this bullshit: Drive otherwise if you don’t like it. It’s not fucking practical and completely misses the point. It’s almost as silly as people who say, “Don’t like America? Move.”

                • Ed says:

                  Yes it is a little extreme and kind of an ancillary point but comparing it to the love it or leave it folks is a false comparison. Is it practical to drive to New York, no not really but you know, when purchasing a ticket, that this screening process is part of the trip. If it is as invasive and violating as claimed, you don’t have to subject yourself to it. Considering a true invasion of the state into your life and person is the ultimate assault on true liberty, I’d say driving/AMTRAK/whatever is worth it.

                  • griftdrift says:

                    As is your belief that molesting my privates is reasonable

                    • Ed says:

                      See edit.

                      Also, YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE THAT DONE. FFS.

                    • griftdrift says:

                      So because it’s the shittiest of the shittiest choices, all is okay? You’re right Ed. It might be constitutional. Doesn’t make it right.

                    • Ed says:

                      No. You CHOOSE to subject yourself to it. FFS I’ve even said the system should be changed but its not this great assault people think it is. And I’ve got no sympathy for the tool who wanted to become a viral sensation and then cash in on that.

                    • griftdrift says:

                      I choose by flying? So Jen’s comparison isnt actually a false equivalency, is it?

                      And in the case of the “tool”, it’s not so much what happened at the security checkpoint. It’s what happened when he tried to leave.

                      He was detained. Without reason. And that IS a civil liberties issue. And exactly the kind of result civil libertarians warned against once we started this particular slippery slope.

                    • Ed says:

                      Jen lays out your options quite clearly. Scanner or pat down. You have to choose one and you know this when you purchase a ticket. FFS this isn’t that hard.

                    • griftdrift says:

                      And if you don’t comply with your “choices”, you detained. This is not a choice.

                    • Ed says:

                      Dude, think about it. You KNOW you’re going to be screened. Like even if you didn’t, and you are at the airport and you saw the long lines and people being searched would you still think its optional? I mean sure, it probably shouldn’t be detainment but why the hell would you assume someone doesn’t want to be searched? Shits and giggles?

                    • griftdrift says:

                      Let me paint a picture for you, Ed.

                      I have to be in San Francisco in two days. I have 2 forms of transportation available, drive practically 24 hours straight or get on an airplane and be there in 5 hours.

                      I roll the dice that I will not be one of the people randomly selected for the nudie scan and then face the choice of a possible groping.

                      I roll snake eyes and am forced into the uncomfortable choice. I chose neither and say “nevermind, I’ll figure out another way”

                      A government official says, “sorry, that’s not how it works, please come with me”.

                      You are teetering into Kafka land.

                      My motto is “people will find a way” and because of that you’d think I’d be with you on people driving/AMTRAK.

                      However, you are talking about the government taking actions whose efficacy is questionable and the invasion of privacy is unquestionable and the consequence of this policy is a direct harm to the economic and social well being of its citizens.

                      There is no “finding a way” here.

                      There is no reason here.

  22. Ed says:

    More, at best, absurd civil libertarianism.

    FYI: I had a serious post typed out but then remembered my reputation. Instead you get snark. But serious snark.

  23. Bernita says:

    the story of my life…having radiation and getting my boobs felt up 🙂

  24. Stefan says:

    Excellent idea. I am waiting for the airline that promises no enhanced security, but also no Muslims. I think that ad campaign will go over big.