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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mad? Here, let me take your money.

Here's a totally bogus suggestion being tossed around in the furor over invasive airport searches: hire private security guards to replace federal employees. Huh? If they're going to be performing the same searches as are being performed by the TSA now, the fact that they're employed by a private company isn't going to make the intrusions any more palatable.

As for their being more customer-friendly or efficient than the TSA, that is complete and total hogwash. The private guards who performed the searches before 9/11 were far more obnoxious, inefficient, fat, lazy, and ignorant than the crews we have now. The abuse that they used to dish out at airports like Newark is legendary. And of course, they failed miserably.

No, the privatization meme is just another money grab by corporate America, and its tools like this clown politician. It's the searches, stupid -- not who signs the paychecks.

Comments (21)

the whole point is that the private contractors won't be forced to use the porno scanners.

But hey, if you want to choose between (a) letting the government increase your risk of cancer while invading your privacy without making anyone safer or(b)having some random stranger grope your ballsack every time you fly, by all means please continue defending the TSA.

The chance of getting cancer from the scanners is higher than the chance of dying in a terrorist attack.

When do we plan to institute 25 MPH max speed limits? After all, far more people die in auto accidents than terrorist attacks.

the whole point is that the private contractors won't be forced to use the porno scanners.

That's ridiculous. They are either necessary for security or they aren't. As the article states, "contractors must follow all TSA-mandated security procedures, including hand patdowns when necessary."

The types of searches should be the same, no matter whether it's the TSA or a private company performing them.

The airport which is (trying to) opt out of TSA still must do the so-called porno scanners.

That said, there is something to be said for reduction of public employee union workers.

In terms of security, it is helpful to think of all of these steps as a series of cascading sieves. While of course one can bypass this security measure, or that security measure, that's not really the point.

If you have 100 sieves, each of which only catches 50% of contaminants, the ultimate result is very clean.

These scanners are an interesting and useful addition, even if they are only used 1% of the time or less. They add another security sieve.

In terms of the privacy concerns, it seems like incredibly sour grapes how Drudge and other GOP folks are pushing this particular meme.

The GOP has no problem with thermal imaging of houses to catch pot growers, or widespread surveillance of phone calls, yet they have an issue with this?

It is perhaps only in the US, with its strange mix of puritanical ethos and ultra-individuality, that we find people so outraged over their wee-wees being anonymously, disinterestedly, and verisimilitudinously examined.


N Y City Council Members Want To Ban Porno Scanners From JFK

By: Jane Hamsher Thursday November 18, 2010 2:31 pm Tweet Share3

Maybe going around Congress and spending $173 million on Joe Lieberman’s cherished porno scanners wasn’t the absolute best idea:

"Councilman David G. Greenfield has introduced legislation to ban the scanners at all NYC buildings, not just airports. “The images produced by these naked body scanners are equivalent to the most intrusive strip search,” Councilman Greenfield said in a statement, which noted that U.S. Marshalls at a Florida federal courthouse saved over 35,000 nude images in their scanner. “This is a dangerous precedent. First airports, now courthouses? What’s next, school buildings? After all, we already have metal detectors in some of New York’s public schools and the TSA is already routinely scanning minors in these full body scanners at airports."

What will Portland City Council do?

Oh, they'll probably ban them, too. Few of these two-bit politicians understand the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

On a different level, the big problem with Mayor Creepy's pointless gun control ordinance is that it appears to be pre-empted by state law. That doesn't stop anybody at City Hall from grandstanding.

If more Americans went to the gym, they'd get used to some stranger checking out their privates. Not to mention photographing or videorecording them with his iPhone.

I want my private sector groped only by private sector operatives!

Too bad Homeland Security is headed by a woman that still buys into the PC nonsense that "everyone should be treated as a suspect". The TSA is doing groping searches on nuns and grandmothers with round trip tickets; not to mention small children that have no clue why they are being groped.
In Israel, where terrorist threats are a way of life, little of this TSA "security theatre" goes on. Noone takes off their shoes, and they don't really care if you have a curticle scissors or a nail file in your carry on luggage. You ARE, however, asked some very pointed questions about your luggage - if it was packed by you and in your control the entire time prior to arriving at the airport. They also carefully check out your passport and have a computerized system that screens you for additional patdowns and inspection. Mainly, they are looking at people - not the items they have with them.
As someone that flies at least 5-6 times a year, I have come to largely resent the growing list of items I can't bring on board and the ever more intensive screenings. I think it's time to cut down on this TSA madness; and institute a system based upon personal profiles rather than the idiocy we currently have. I'm writing to both of my US Senators and my Congressman about this.
By the way, if these new TSA policies backfire as much as I think they will - the airlines will realize after this holiday season that it's killing their business as well. And that might force them to put a stop to this nonsense too.
One can hope...

"Private guards...were far more obnoxious, inefficient, lazy, fat and ignorant than the crews we have now."

They're the same people. The only difference is they are now unionized.

Bottom line is the Government usually does EVERYTHING poorly. Why should TSA be an exception?

Is the Governement's goal to make us safer? The TSA's bumbling might cause some people switch from flying to driving, which is much more dangerous.

The TSA’s fancy new body scanners have cost the federal government $300 million PLUS $340 million in extra staff costs. But they are not some magical tool. The scanners work well on hard objects such as guns and knives-- but are highly suspect against liquids and gels. A GAO analysis found the scanners probably would not have snared the Christmas Day bomber.

So it’s no surprise that Israeli airport security expert Rafi Sela calls the imaging machines "useless":

Israel gave up on centrally-planned security in 1995. Instead, private contractors with money on the line compete for the job. Scanners are not used. The government can fire the worst and pick the best. El Al is right in the thick of the mass yet they are probably the safest airline in the world.

When you’re scared, it’s instinctive to think that the government will step in and do things better, but it NEVER DOES.

Private contractors are allowed to handle security at a few American airports. A leaked TSA study found that they were better at detecting explosives.

I love seeing conservatives bleat about the invasion of privacy: If they get their way and the screenings are scaled down, guess who'll be calling for impeachment as soon as another underwear bomber gets through.

The TSA is specifically exempted from liability for sexual harassment. Private security companies are not. This is the advantage of opting out of TSA--if the private-sector employee who conducts your enhanced search enjoys it, or the private-sector employee at the backscatter scanner pimps your naked photo on the Internets, you can sue them. You can't sue TSA employees for the same things.

Former director of security for El Al airlines was on tv Wednesday and he said these scanners and patdowns are a waste of time and money. Will do no good at all.

They also mentioned something about former homeland security bigwigs working for the scanner makers. Are we surprised?

Note from the firedoglake link above the following post about cargo inspection.

dosido November 18th, 2010 @ 3:12pm
As a practical matter, all-cargo aircraft operators today are permitted to accept freight from all persons and entities all over the world, including unknown shippers, precisely because of the lack of any credible threat to all-cargo aircraft,” the association, whose members included FedEx, UPS and other shippers, told the agency.
The government agreed.
“TSA believes that a requirement to inspect every piece of cargo could result in an unworkable cost of more than $650 million” in the first year, the agency wrote in 2004. The government wanted security, TSA said, “without undue hardship on the affected stakeholders.”
Frankly, this article (though old news) puts the lie to the assertion that TSA must do whatever it can do protect the American people. They can’t go after the real threat because it costs too much??
Also, talk about bad messaging…Pistole says they couldn’t tell the American public too much because it would tip off terrorists? Are we terrorists? Is it still a secret now that it has rolled out?
I do not feel safer and feel more violated than ever.

I'm sure it will be much easier to sue a private security firm for touching your junk then it would be to sue the feds.

so John 'government does everything poorly'
how is that freeway system working for you , the Library , the Fire Department , knee jerk reactions are lame dude very lame

The TSA is specifically exempted from liability for sexual harassment.
Private security companies are not.

I seriously doubt that you are going to get a nickel out of an airport security contractor for actions taken under contract with the TSA.

“We added the new scanners because a profit-seeking company and its lobbyist persuaded TSA to shell out big bucks to buy them. Guess who works for the consulting company? Michael Chertoff, former head of Homeland Security, who hyped the “benefits” of these scanners when he was in office. “


The TSA is doing groping searches on nuns and grandmothers with round trip tickets; not to mention small children that have no clue why they are being groped.

You really should get your news somewhere other than Fox. I don't doubt that this has happened once. Or twice. But to distort an anecdote and attempt to portray airport security as such is either ignorant or dishonest.

I love seeing conservatives bleat about the invasion of privacy: If they get their way and the screenings are scaled down, guess who'll be calling for impeachment as soon as another underwear bomber gets through.

Hmmm. I'm fairly conservative, and the only complaint I have regarding the scanners is that they're expensive and essentially useless.

Further, the pat-downs are a waste of resources that will accomplish little, if anything.

I realize how terribly non-pc this is, but: profiling is the least expensive and most reliable solution. Of course, that'd get you tagged as a racist, here in these days. I fully expect to be tagged as a religious fundamentalist at some point due to the fact that currency in my wallet bears the words "In God We Trust".

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