Finally people seem to be waking to the craziness of the TSA’s “security theater” at the airport gates, just not before Micheal Chertoff, former head of Homeland Security, got to sock away a nice retirement package from selling us taxpayers the bogus x-ray machines.
As a frequent flyer, I’ve given some thought to this whole security issue. Let’s take a brief walk back into time. Airplane hijackings used to be almost common. It seemed easy to sneak a gun/s or explosive device on a plane. Passengers knew their best way to survive was to sit quietly, endure a day or two in Cuba and try to avoid attracting attention to oneself. We implemented some common sense security to detect and eliminate the ability to easily get guns and bombs on-board planes in the passenger compartment. Then 9/11 happened, and things on the plane itself changed a lot. Passengers were no longer going to sit quietly, and cockpit doors were finally hardened and locked for the flight. This will pretty much end another 9/11 style attack.
But notice I didn’t bring up anything about the changes that have resulted at the security gates as having an impact on eliminating 9/11 style attacks. Frankly, that really changes nothing. We had the shoe-bomber, so now we take off our shoes, then we had the claim of the chemistry set bomb, so now we have the ridiculous 3 oz and a baggy requirement. I would note here that most experts say it would be near impossible to get the right chemicals in the right quantities mixed in the right way to take down a plane while on the plane. Yet still we suffer on. Then along came the underwear bomber, so now we’re basically asked to strip for our porno scan x-ray.
Now how many of you believe the terrorists are going to try another shoe bomb or underwear bomb on a plane? Of course not, they’ll find something else. Most recently they did the toner cartridge trick, and made some progress. But here’s what interests me, it was right after that TSA implemented stricter rub-down procedures, but they still are checking only about 20% of cargo. No changes there. What kind of clown car do they ride to work in? They just keep reacting, always a day behind the newest threat, and put no emphasis on where the real threats arise, or how to get ahead.
Oh, but don’t forget, the TSA gate agents recently got “real badges.” The claim for this expenditure of our tax dollars was so they would enjoy more respect. Well, I’ve got a clue for the TSA managers. The best way to get to respect is to extend respect. I was on my way to D.C. Monday morning and had just stepped up to the security person in the main terminal to show my ID and boarding pass. Some plain clothes TSA Agent literally elbowed himself in front of me flashing his credentials to the security person. We rode out to the concourse on the same tram, and when he got there, all he did was stand around looking. So there was clearly no emergency. Think I have a lot of respect for him, and it unfortunately further lowers my respect for the other agents of that group. So really guys, get a clue. Try extending a little courtesy and respect, and you might get some back. Having a tin badge ain’t gonna cut it.
All that said, what’s this about my new found way to get more quickly through a TSA Rub Down? Coming into the security gates at Dulles, I see Chertoff has lots of his x-ray machines sold to them, so everyone was expected to go through them. I said, “No, sorry, not going through an x-ray machine. You can do the pat down.” So of course the guy gets on his radio and says he has a “non-compliant.” They send an older big guy over, the supervisor, obviously for some kind of intimidation factor. I waited until he got there and explained I was not “non-compliant,” that it was my understanding everyone had a choice of getting an x-ray by an uncertified x-ray technician, or get a pat down, and that I had clearly said they could do a pat down.
Well, the supervisor leads me over to pickup my stuff, and has some younger guy come out to do the rub down. The supervisor stands by scowling with arms crossed, again clearly going for the intimidation factor. The agent goes through his little spiel about how he’s going to be touching me, and then starts the rub-down, at each point telling me what he’s going to touch next. Finally, very matter of factly, I just said, “Dude, just do whatever it is you have to do. As a gay man, I have no problem having another guy feel me up.”
The pale creamy complexion of the old guy went from bright red to nearly purple in seconds. I thought he was going to have a stroke right there, and amazingly, I got a very quick pat down, and was sent on my way.