Quote of the Day - Handjob or Cancer?

Today's QotD comes from a video by Rebecca Watson, of Skepchick, titled F the TSA:
My main concern at this point is deciding which I prefer the TSA to give me: a handjob or cancer.
She continues:
Now, of course that's a joke. ... First of all, yes I'm kidding. I don't think that I'm going to get a handjob. As I understand the term, handjob is generally a pleasant experience and usually involves, I don't know, a glass of wine before hand. What the TSA is planning to do is something more akin to sexual assault.

Cancer? I probably won't get cancer from the TSA. But, of course, what I'm referring to are the backscatter x-ray machines. However, there is a group of concerned scientists out there who think that the FDA's science is not exactly sound.
And also, I don't think that it's protecting anyone. I don't feel like I'm any safer because people went through these machines. A few people took issue with my joke about cancer because they felt that I was sort of fear-mongering in a way. I don't think that's fear-mongering to make a joke about the potential real effects that these machines could be having. What I do think is fear-mongering is forcing people to give up their privacy and go through machines that force them to be photographed naked basically. And if they don't do it you threaten them with a public groping. That, to me, is using fear to reach your ends.
Well said, Ms. Watson! As I've said previously, the TSA is nothing but security theater designed to make the general public think they're safe.

TSA: Incompetence Redefined (Yet Again)

Authorities Investigate Stun Gun Found on JetBlue Plane
An image of the Striker 1800 stun gun was obtained by Fox 5 News. It was found by a cleaning crew inside the back pocket of a seat on board Jet Blue flight 1179.

The plane had just arrived from Boston and all of the passengers were off of the plane when it was found.
I'd say that the incompetence of the TSA is stunning. But they fail so often and so easily that it's really just a mundane story. I'm guessing they were too busy searching the underwear of wheelchair-bound grandmothers and feeling up six-year-olds.

It almost seems like they're being a bunch of ass-clowns on purpose - considering the "security" they provide is just badly-produced security theater, that's not surprising.

Quote of the Day - Commander Zero

For me, there is no victory in the ‘war on terror’ until I can get on a plane with an unopened 20 oz. bottle of Coke in my pocket and no TSA fingerprints on my crotch.
- Commander Zero, Roosevelt dying didnt cause us to lose WWII, so why would........

Off-broadway Security Theater getting more expensive

Looks like the cost of forced hoop-jumping is growing faster than expected.
Choosing to carry your luggage onto a plane instead of checking it with an airline might save you a few bucks at the ticket counter but it's costing taxpayers about a quarter-billion dollars a year.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Congress this week that luggage fees have prompted more passengers to hold onto their bags, which means more items for Transportation Security Administration officers to inspect at security checkpoints at a cost of about $260 million annually.

"When you have to pay to check a bag it increases carry-on luggage and that means there is more to inspect at the gate and so forth for passengers to get on planes," Napolitano said during testimony before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security.

Napolitano was addressing a question from Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat and chairwoman of the subcommittee, who asked whether airlines should help make up for some of the extra costs.

"Checked bagged fees are increasing, it looks like, the cost to TSA because people don't want to pay the fees so they are not checking bags and putting more on the planes," Landrieu said the hearing Wednesday. "My question is, do the taxpayers have to pick up this fee? Or should we be looking at the airlines for some of the profits that they make from these fees to offset the cost the taxpayer."
Source: More Carry-On Luggage Costing Taxpayers, TSA Millions a Year

Want Some Candy, Little Kid?

Ken, over at Popehat, pens some weapons-grade satire.
The TSA’s approach to enhanced pat-downs of kids has come under fire recently after TSA Regional Security Director James Marchand described the TSA’s method of encouraging children to comply with being touched in their private regions by government officials. “You try to make it as best you can for that child to come through. If you can come up with some kind of a game to play with a child, it makes it a lot easier,” said Marchand, who said that the “being touched is a game” program is now part of TSA training.
Of course, like all good satire, it's also loaded with a lot of truth - and that's what makes it so horrible. Hey, TSA, it's NOT A FUCKING GAME!

Quote of the Day

Fun fact, though, it turns out that photography – of all things – IS apparently allowed in the security area, making it officially less dangerous than deodorant.

- Mina From a comment on this picture post:

H/T to Breda

Attention Obama, Napolitano

Barack, Janet:


The arrest was the culmination of a long-term undercover operation during which Mohamud had been monitored closely for months as his alleged bomb plot developed, the Justice Department said. Officials said the public was never in danger from the device.

CNN: Teen suspected of trying to set off bomb at Oregon tree-lighting event
FOX: Feds Arrest Somali-Born Teen in Tree Lighting Bomb Plot


After removing prosthetic breast, flight attendant says TSA goes "too far".
Enhanced pat down leaves Grand Rapids airline passenger in tears
TSA Groin Searches Menstruating Woman
Woman: TSA Agents Singled Me Out For My Breasts
Lawsuit: TSA agents pulled down tank-top and laughed at exposed breasts

Terror Alert Level: Farcical

At least the Obama administration is consistent - they've said over and over again that the failures of programs, initiatives, and systems are all due to poor communication and bad PR. Looks like that also applies to the vaguely named "Homeland Security Advisory System" with its five color levels and ambiguous alert descriptions.

Thankfully, the DHS and Obama are committed to an alert system that is more understandable. After much thought, one of the leading recommendations for the new alert system name is the "National Terrorist Advisory System." That should bring much needed clarity to the situation and really help the public better understand what the warnings mean.

But they're not stopping there! Not only is the name of the system getting a much needed overhaul, the five color coded levels are as well. Citing public complaints, including that the colors do not "follow the natural color spectrum" and that it unfairly discriminates against numbers by strictly using colors, Napolitano is considering several new, and much improved, alert levels.
Two of the suggested revisions keep the same color coding but update the descriptions to give the public a better idea of what that will mean to them:

But, the more likely choice scraps the color coding and, taking a cue from pizza shops and Starbucks, only has two levels, "Elevated" and "Imminent" - the equivalent of Large and Extra Large.
Under that model, when the threat level changes to imminent, government officials would be expected to be as specific as possible in describing the threat without jeopardizing national security. And an imminent threat would not last longer than a week, meaning the public wouldn't see a consistently high and ambiguous threat level.
Way to go DHS and Obama. Consistent with the rest of your administration's actions, you've succeeded in taking something that was already a joke and making it even more useless.

Source: AP Exclusive: Color-coded terror alerts may end

Your junk - I can touch it?

Looks like my recent post, TSA: Doing Nothing ... Instead of Something, struck a chord with one lunatic. Looks like he did a drive-by and left a copy-and-paste rant from his website.
I stand by my statement support full screening of passengers boarding commercial flights. After being made a villain over it let me restate my position.
We are dealing with factions of tourists groups that will not hesitate to use any and all means at their disposal to kill Americans; including the weaponization of children.
My disagreement yesterday with on twitter @victoria_29 , lead to her calling me a child molester because I said even children should be screen when boarding a flight. I stand by my statement.
If you have never dealt first hand with these people you do not know what they are capable of and maybe you should drive or walk because I do not want you on a plane. Yes, we need better screening methods, HOWEVER we must Have Screening.

GOD Bless you if you have never traveled abroad or fought in a combat zone were children and the other innocents are used BUT do not stand in judgment of those of us who have and know what can and will happen if we allow it.

All passengers boarding a commercial flight should be screened

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

- Mr. Samples, in a comment on the post

Seems Mr. Samples is making the age-old mistake of confusing feelings with reality. There are two big assumptions he is making in his comment, both of which are actually not true:

Assumption 1: Terrorism is easy
Assumption 2: The screening provided by the TSA is effective.

Let's look at the first assumption: Terrorism is easy. From what Mr. Samples has said, I'm guessing his view of terrorism is something like this:

1. Hate the infidels and wish them dead
2. Call for jihad!
3. ?????
4. Weaponized children dropping planes from the sky.

Now, I'll agree that in some parts of the world, this may very well be true. Areas where radical versions of Islam are used to poison the minds of children and where abject poverty is the rule rather than the exception. In these areas, yes, I could imagine that is not difficult to recruit men, women, and children into doing horrible things with the promise of money or 72 virgins in the afterlife. On the other hand, here in the United States, there is no easy crucible in which to foment the hatred and desperation which are necessary for men, women, and children to commit such acts of barbarism - not in a country where even the poor have flat screens and cell phones.

No - in order to accomplish their goals, these men have to be imported from the other side of the world. They must be extremely desperate and loyal men. Men who can resist the temptations and the easy living that they'll find here. These men have to be heavily indoctrinated and well trained in order to accomplish their mission before the vast luxuries we take for granted can corrupt them.

None of this is easy or cheap or quick. And this is one of the main reasons we have experienced relatively few attacks on our country.

Assumption #2, that the TSA provides effective screening, is even easier to refute. How many stories have we heard about people getting knives, guns, explosives, and yet more guns through security. And now they're going Full Monty and rolling out the body scanning systems. Unfortunately:

* Airport body scanners would be "unlikely" to detect many of the explosive devices used by terrorist groups, a Tory MP has warned.

* Generally, the machines can't find items stashed in a body cavity. So the scanners wouldn't stop at least one common smuggling method used by drug traffickers.

The TSA as an actual security apparatus is a farce. They do not effectively screen passengers and, as a result, do not make the skies any safer. The only methods that have resulted in any improved security are government intelligence operations and passengers fighting back. Intelligence operations discovered and stopped the "liquid bombers". Passengers stopped the "shoe" bomber and the "underwear" bomber. There are better ways for us to spend the millions of dollars we flush down the TSA toilet every year and none of them involve groping children or playing Peeping Tom.

Mr. Samples closed out his rant with a quote from the Constitution and I shall do the same.

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.
And here is Mr. McGowan, former Assistant TSA Administrator, agreeing that the TSA is violating the Fourth Amendment:

Hat tips to Alan and Peter

TSA: Doing Nothing ... Instead of Something

Via Borepatch comes an unexpectedly candid and honest assessment of airline security, from none other than the security boss of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport

Airport security boss calls time on tech
Marijn Ornstein said: "If you look at all the recent terrorist incidents, the bombs were detected because of human intelligence not because of screening ... If even a fraction of what is spent on screening was invested in the intelligence services we would take a real step toward making air travel safer and more pleasant."

Can't argue with her on that. Bruce Schneier has been saying the same thing for quite a while. He uses the term Movie Plot Threats to describe the type of situation our 'security' revolves around preventing. But, as he pointed out (back in 2005), Terrorists Don't Do Movie Plots:
The problem with movie plot security is that it only works if we guess right. If we spend billions defending our subways, and the terrorists bomb a bus, we've wasted our money. To be sure, defending the subways makes commuting safer. But focusing on subways also has the effect of shifting attacks toward less-defended targets, and the result is that we're no safer overall.

Terrorists don't care if they blow up subways, buses, stadiums, theaters, restaurants, nightclubs, schools, churches, crowded markets or busy intersections. Reasonable arguments can be made that some targets are more attractive than others: airplanes because a small bomb can result in the death of everyone aboard, monuments because of their national significance, national events because of television coverage, and transportation because most people commute daily. But the United States is a big country; we can't defend everything.

One problem is that our nation's leaders are giving us what we want. Party affiliation notwithstanding, appearing tough on terrorism is important. Voting for missile defense makes for better campaigning than increasing intelligence funding. Elected officials want to do something visible, even if it turns out to be ineffective.
As I mentioned earlier, I won't be flying anymore unless absolutely necessary precisely because of this massive loss of liberties with a negligible increase in security.