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Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Tail Wagging the Dog - "Assume the Position!" Hande Hoch! (TSA, VIPR)

The Tail Wagging the Dog - The Tail: Muslim Terrorists, The Dog: The Rest of Us
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Rand Paul About TSA: "Is This The Pose Of A Free Man?"

By , Mens News DailySeptember 23, 2012
Rand Paul About TSA: "Is This The Pose Of A Free Man?"
Reposted fromNYT blog post by Juliet Lapidos at http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/11/is-this-the-pose-of-a-free-man/ (below), that's the perfect thing to say to the TSA as you're "assuming the position" of a common criminal.  I missed this piece from earlier in September:
     On the Sunday before the Republican convention, Senator Rand Paul ranted against his least favorite government bureaucracy: The Transportation Security Administration. Addressing a crowd at the University of South Florida, he mimicked the backscatter-machine stance (arms up in the air, legs apart) and asked "Is this the pose of a free man?"...Mr. Paul's vendetta against the TSA has some merit.  Nearly 11 years since its establishment, there's plenty of evidence that the TSA is inefficient, and if not ineffective, at least less effective than it should be.
     The House Subcommittee on Transportation Security released a report on Monday that calls TSA operations "in many cases costly, counterintuitive, and poorly executed."
     ...Echoing security experts such as Bruce Schneier, the report says the TSA "maintains a reactive approach to security."  After the attempted bombing of American Airlines Flight 63 in December 2001, the TSA required passengers to remove their shoes at checkpoints.  After the discovery of the liquid explosives plot in Great Britain in August 2006, the TSA banned liquids and gels.  And so on. The report notes, dryly, that "once a procedure is put in place, it is almost never removed."  Airport security is a game of catch-up, and it seems the TSA rarely considers whether new technology obviates the need for annoying and intrusive restrictions.
     While the TSA insists on confiscating lighters, it's oddly slow to enforce protocols that actually make sense.  In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Congress instructed TSA agents to vet foreign flight students.  They do; but there's a hitch.  The Government Accountability Office said in July that "this vetting does not occur until after the foreign national has obtained flight training."
     The TSA seems like a caricature of a wasteful bureaucracy, spending astounding amounts of money even during a sluggish economic recovery.
•The TSA employs roughly 62,000 people, including 47,000 screeners, at a cost of more than $3 billion a year in payroll, compensation and benefits.  But "there does not appear to be a correlation between TSA's staffing model and the number of travelers that need to be screened."  The TSA workforce is larger now than it was in 2005 despite a "net decrease in the number of people traveling" domestically.

From the comments there:
Our screeners are composed of a workforce that includes individuals like a member of my extended family. ---A person who did not graduate high school, has a severe problem with alcohol, personality problems, and in all probability, psych issues.  Yet this person was hired & employed as a screener in one of the nation's busiest airports.  It's time to get serious about making our air traffic safer or stop wasting billions of dollars on the window dressing/charade that passes for security in our airports.
More:
All TSA has done in 10 years is to stop idiot gun-nuts who "forgot" to take their handgun out of their bag and stop me from carrying on my terrorist Swiss army knife with its one-inch blade and half-inch scissors.  Oh, and a half-empty bottle of aloe vera. What a huge waste of time and taxpayer money TSA is.

More:
On a recent trip I was shuttling from the rental car return to the terminal when the driver began to chat about her other job as a TSA inspector.  Am I the only one who finds it jarring that TSA positions require the same level of expertise as driving a shuttle bus?  My husband wasn't a bit surprised.
Another -- great point:
There are thousands of venues in which a machine gun could have killed hundreds--security lines outside airports, at Disneyland, at malls and sports stadiums, high schools, and on and on.  There is no reason that a terrorist has to get on an airplane in order to kill and maim and terrify.  They could do the same damage on subway cars or classrooms.    They could buy their weapons and ammunition legally and create major events on a weekly basis. They could stand on freeway overpasses.  In fact these things *have* happened, just not by terrorists.  Therefore, we can safely conclude that there are no terrorists planning to do it.  If there were, they would not have lain quiet for 11 years.

Another -- also right on:
The article is based on the premise that the role of TSA is to keep us safe.  It appears to me that the real goal is to purchase extremely expensive equipment from politically connected companies.  It seems to be accomplishing that mission quite effectively.
And very important:
Just a gentle reminder since many of us, including you, have forgotten our civics class lessons: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
More on that:
Because you want to get on an airplane, suddenly all of your constitutional rights are suspended and you are presumed guilty until proven innocent.

‘Is This the Pose of a Free Man?’

Reposted from a blog By JULIET LAPIDOS, Taking Notes Blog - The Editorial Page, The Editor's Blog, September 11, 2012
article source: http://amyalkon.mensnewsdaily.com/2012/09/23/rand-paul-about-tsa-is-this-the-pose-of-a-free-man/
     On the Sunday before the Republican convention, Senator Rand Paul ranted against his least favorite government bureaucracy: The Transportation Security Administration. Addressing a crowd at the University of South Florida, he mimicked the backscatter-machine stance (arms up in the air, legs apart) and asked “Is this the pose of a free man?”
Denver International Airport on November 23, 2010.Rick Wilking/ReutersDenver International Airport on November 23, 2010.
     Outside the Paul family, I doubt many Americans subscribe to the idea that airport security lies on the road to serfdom.  But Mr. Paul’s vendetta against the TSA has some merit. Nearly 11 years since its establishment, there’s plenty of evidence that the TSA is inefficient, and if not ineffective, at least less effective than it should be.
     The House Subcommittee on Transportation Security released a report on Monday that calls TSA operations “in many cases costly, counterintuitive, and poorly executed.”

     Echoing security experts such as Bruce Schneier, the report says the TSA “maintains a reactive approach to security.” After the attempted bombing of American Airlines Flight 63 in December 2001, the TSA required passengers to remove their shoes at checkpoints.   After the discovery of the liquid explosives plot in Great Britain in August 2006, the TSA banned liquids and gels. And so on.  The report notes, dryly, that “once a procedure is put in place, it is almost never removed.”  Airport security is a game of catch-up, and it seems the TSA rarely considers whether new technology obviates the need for annoying and intrusive restrictions.
     Is it really necessary to ban shampoo and hand cream?   Perhaps not. Kip Hawley, a former TSA administrator, argued recently in The Wall Street Journal that the TSA should eliminate the prohibited items list, with the exception of obvious weapons.  “The list of banned items has created an ‘Easter-egg hunt mentality at the TSA,” he wrote.  “Worse, banning certain items gives terrorists a complete list of what not to use in their next attack.  Lighters are banned?  The next attack will use an electric trigger.”  Banning lighters is just security theater—it just makes airports seem safer.
     While the TSA insists on confiscating lighters, it’s oddly slow to enforce protocols that actually make sense.  In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Congress instructed TSA agents to vet foreign flight students.  They do; but there’s a hitch.  The Government Accountability Office said in July that “this vetting does not occur until after the foreign national has obtained flight training.”
     The TSA seems like a caricature of a wasteful bureaucracy, spending astounding amounts of money even during a sluggish economic recovery.  A couple of highlights from the report:
  • In 2006 the TSA spent $29.6 million on 207 “puffer” machines designed to shake lose explosive particles.  They failed to work in dirty, humid airport environments.
  • The TSA employs roughly 62,000 people, including 47,000 screeners, at a cost of more than $3 billion a year in payroll, compensation and benefits.  But “there does not appear to be a correlation between TSA’s staffing model and the number of travelers that need to be screened.”  The TSA workforce is larger now than it was in 2005 despite a “net decrease in the number of people traveling” domestically.
     Given that Republicans dominate the subcommittee on transportation security, it’s not surprising that many of their proposed solutions involve privatization.  The report’s concluding paragraph advises the TSA to “begin an immediate shift toward partnering with the private sector for passenger screening and other security operations.”
     Whether airport security personnel work for taxpayers or privately owned businesses seems, to this liberal, beside the point—although perhaps Rand Paul will feel more like a free man if the screener telling him to spread his legs doesn’t depend on government-run health care.
     Clearly, though, it’s worth changing the TSA’s approach.  And luckily there’s a security byword that sounds almost as good to Republican ears as privatization: Israel.  Instead of banning beauty products, the Israelis focus on intelligence.  Instead of asking passengers to remove their shoes, they interview them.  Their technique isn’t cheap, but at least it’s logical, and no plane leaving Israel’s international airport has ever been hijacked.
Correction: September 11, 2012
An earlier version of this article misstated Kip Hawley’s gender. He is a man, not a woman.
A version of this article appeared in print on 09/15/2012, on page A22 of the NewYork edition with the headline: So Many Screeners and So Little Shampoo, but Are Our Planes Safer?.
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Judica me, Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta, ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me.
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