Monday, April 18, 2011

Man, this chaps my hide!

This article is dated, but it's infuriating nonetheless.

A classic example of "scope creep." Personally, if I am on a plane I don't care if my seatmate has cash, a pound of blow and a bag full of child pornography; as long as he doesn't have a gun or a bomb, we're five by five. I thought it was the job of the TSA to ensure that said gun or bomb never made it on the plane, but the experience of Kathy Parker proves that the TSA is now really just the airport division of the FBI and state and local police.

The really insidious part of this story is on page 2:

TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis said the reason Parker was selected for in-depth screening was that her actions at the airport had aroused the suspicion of a behavior detection officer, and that she continued to act "as if she feared discovery."

If I were confronted by two police officers and four TSOs, accused of embezzlement and threatened with arrest I imagine I'd act pretty fearful as well. That kind of reasoning is analogous to making an animal savage by locking it in a cage, and then claiming, "Of course I have a cage...see how savage that beast is?" And of course the criterion for subjecting this woman to an in-depth search ("she seemed as if she feared discovery") is so subjective that it could be used to stop virtually anyone for anything. After all, one should be a bit hesitant to undergo TSA screening, so wouldn't an overly calm passenger be equally suspicious?

I remember when the notion of a TSA was floated back in 2002, and at the time I thought it was a good idea. Back then I harbored golden dreams of ex-Marines and retired FBI agents or police officers staffing the security lines, bringing years of experience to bear on an important job. What we actually got were a bunch of lightly trained, power-tripping Rent-a-Cops. I could not have been more wrong.

I said it before and I'll say it again: the 9/11 terrorists won.