Thursday, July 17, 2008

The glorious TSA's, Patrick Smith writes:"Propped up by a culture of fear, TSA has become a bureaucracy with too much power and little accountability. Where will the lunacy stop?"

He recounts a story about his run in with TSA officials and his airline issued butter knife that would by hilarious, if it weren't such an indictment of government morons run amok.
"do I really need to point out that an airline pilot at the controls would hardly need a butter knife if he or she desired to inflict damage? As I've argued in the column before, the requirement that crew members be subject to the same screening as passengers is wasteful and pretty much pointless in the first place, especially when you consider that thousands of other workers with access to planes, including fuelers, caterers and cabin cleaners, receive only occasional random checks. But the idea of seizing a piece of standard airline cutlery from a uniformed pilot is lunacy. 
At this point, the Transportation Security Administration's policies in general are wrong on so many levels that it's hard to get one's arms around them. My apologies to those who've tired of my harping on this subject in column after column, but here again are the bullet points:

  • Sharp, potentially dangerous objects can be fashioned from virtually anything, including no shortage of materials found on board any jetliner -- to say nothing of the fact that a copycat takeover in the style of Sept. 11 would be almost impossible for terrorists to pull off, regardless of what weapons they possess. Yet we insist on wasting huge amounts of time digging through people's belongings, looking for what are effectively benign items.
  • Almost as senseless are the liquids and gels restrictions. Experts have pointed out the futility of these measures, yet they remain in place. (Still more from TSA's you-can't-make-this-up list of airport contraband: gel shoe inserts.)
  • TSA's approach is fundamentally flawed in that it treats everybody -- from employees to passengers, old and young, domestic and foreign -- as a potential threat. We are all suspects. Together with a preposterous zero-tolerance approach to weapons, be they real or perceived, this has created a colossal apparatus that strives for the impossible.
I can't disagree that some level of screening will always be important. Explosives and firearms, for instance, need to be kept off airplanes. But the existing rules are so heavy-handed, absolute and illogical as to be ultimately unenforceable."

I unfortunately had to travel to China every three months from 2005-07 and had to experience the TSA craziness first hand. I pity people who have to deal with them on a more regular basis.


Shell said...

It's not just the TSA! We went to Water Country, USA a few weeks ago and during the baggage checks (yes, they have baggage checks), they stumbled upon my knitting. They made me take it out and prove that I could knit to make sure they weren't weapons!

Shez said...

You have got to be joking! That's zero common sense run amok.

Leah said...

When I flew from the UK to the Netherlands (in 2003, I think it was), I had my nail-clipper taken from me, as this was a sharp object and could be used as a stabbing weapon!
Yeah, right...