Posted by: reformedmusings | November 15, 2010

Air Travel Security Must Read – TSA Baffoonery

In the midst of a very busy time here, I’ve been keeping up with the current TSA virtual strip searches and physical molestation of law-abiding citizens, including children and the disabled. Most of all, I’m deeply saddened by the sheep-like willingness of passengers to simply accept the humiliation virtually unchallenged. I spent 30 years of my life defending the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. To see people just acquiesce to the grossest violations of their constitutional rights and willingly endure personal humiliation is just devastating.

I started a post months ago pointing out the uselessness of the so-called Advanced Imaging Technology. I have solid knowledge of these devices and can shred Napolitano’s lies that they are effective and necessary for security. They are neither, as Israeli experts confirm. I’ve traveled to Israel and experienced their security system first-hand. Rather than look for innocent pocket knives and “too-large” shampoo bottles carried by harmless travelers, the Israelis effectively screen and weed out dangerous people. See the difference? Profiling works. Israel’s El Al airline hasn’t had an inflight incident in decades despite being a prime target.

Patrick Smith, an airline pilot, wrote an overall excellent analysis of the situation – probably the best that I’ve read to date. He comes up a bit short on the technical details of the technology, but I’ll address that in another post. Everyone who flies or cares about their freedoms should read Smith’s essay.

I was a frequent business flier until last week. I’ve booked my next trip on Amtrak, and I see lots of teleconferences and online conferencing in my future. I know that this is all indeed security theater. All terrorist plots or attempted attacks on the U.S.A. since 9/11 have been thwarted either by good FBI or “other” intelligence before execution or stopped in progress by passengers. TSA has been next to useless against Islamic terrorism, but has been a mini-boon to the DEA.

Based on the core physics involved, the virtual strip search machines probably would not have caught the underwear bomber and certainly won’t catch the next attempt. More details in another post that will contain some boring physics. TSA is aggressively fighting the last war. Trying to stay ahead of terrorists with expensive technology is a fool’s errand. They adapt too quickly. We learned that the hard way in Iraq where we futilely wasted billions of dollars before changing our approach. The answer to Islamic terrorism is good, actionable intelligence with timely, decisive follow-up, not bombarding the flying public with ionizing radiation.

Just as bad, TSA’s SPOT behavior detection based on Ekman’s theories is nothing but a con job. Their Behavior Detection Officers add nothing to security. Their effectiveness rate is documented at less than 1%. You could do better by randomly picking people out of a crowd. GAO wasn’t impressed. Ekman’s work has not been verified through peer review in over a decade because he refuses to submit it for review. But unfortunately, it’s easier to spend money on new toys and bogus theories than to do the hard intelligence work required to actually stop Islamic terrorists. That’s the legacy of TSA to date – an ineffective yet grossly expensive, growing, and seemingly unaccountable empire.

There are also more effective scanning technologies on the market that do not irradiate passengers or produce images. I’ll write more as I have time. I totally agree with Patrick Smith that TSA has taken us down a futile, absurdly expensive, and dangerous road. Let me close by asking this: If American citizens will willingly pose for naked images of themselves to be viewed by government strangers or permit their genitalia and breasts to be groped by government strangers – or worse, allow these things to happen to their children – what won’t they allow the government to do to them and their children? Are Americans really this stupid? Have we really become a nation of cowardly sheep? I pray not.



  1. A voice of sanity. Thank you.

    • My pleasure. This whole fiasco validates the old recurring Twilight Zone theme to be careful what you ask for, you just might get it. People want the government nanny to take care of them, well here we are. And I’m afraid that we aren’t done yet.

  2. […] – a viable TSA alternative I wrote in this post about the TSA (Touching Sensitive Areas) buffoonery. I also stated that I would be taking Amtrak […]

  3. […] commented in past posts here and here about TSA buffoonery. In case you doubted the approach that I suggested for investment and […]

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