Tuesday, June 26, 2012

TSA Disregards Own Policies - Dumps Grampa On The Floor

For thousands of travelers a day, the TSA has become, at best, a tolerated necessity. Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. 2001, the TSA has been mandated as the first line of defense in domestic airline travel. Their main job is to deter would-be wrong-doers from completing their plans.

The primary idea is much like the security attendant at the gate of a closed community. They check to insure that the wrong people are not given access. In reality, a determined wrong-doer will just add a means to bypass the security into their schemes. The checks at the terminal entrance make it difficult, though not impossible, for the average schmo to bring dangerous things onto the plane.

The protocols are based upon past activities and not current threat trends. For domestic issues, the FBI tracks the current threads. They have, on occasion, used the TSA to assist in any direct actions to stop attacks such as the shoe bomber several years ago.

The checkpoints have become a necessary inconvenience. There have been several documented cases where pure common sense has been overruled by incorrectly interpreted policies. In other cases, there has been plain disregard for those policies. Strip searching or "gate-rape" gropings of preteen children is uncalled for, unless there is a specific threat stream indicating a kid with a certain last name and description is being used to smuggle bad things onto a flight. "Confiscating" Nikon D5100 cameras, money, credit cards, Asus Tablet PCs, NOOK ebook readers, Amazon Kindles, and other personal items is also uncalled for, especially since those "confiscations" end up at the agent's house or a pawn shop. There is a legal term for such violations of the 4th Amendment:  "Larceny".

Earlier today, a story broke originating from the Orlando, FL airport. A TSA agent violated their own policies in handling the cremated remains (cremains) of a departed family member. TSA's own site states that cremains need to be packed in carry-on baggage. They state the cremains must pass through the x-ray screening machine. However, the TSA's own policy states that the container is to, under no circumstances, be opened or disturbed.

A union-member TSA "agent" decided that she didn't agree with the policy. She opened the container holding Mr. John Gross's grandfather's cremains. She played with the ashes. As if the strange necrophiliac activity weren't disrespectful enough, she spilled them onto the floor of the security screening area.

If it had been a mistake, that would have been a different issue. She intentionally opened a container she was forbidden to open. It didn't accidentally pop open. She didn't accidentally drop the container. No, she opened a container she knew to contain cremated human remains, played with them, then spilled them on the floor. To add further insult, she laughed at Mr. Gross as he attempted to collect up Grampa while other travelers attempted to get through the line and to their flights. Mr. Gross was not only laughed at, he was told he was impeding the rest of the line.

This was not just a simple violation of TSA's own policy. It was an attack on the Gross's religious convictions. It was an affront to the deceased. Then, this union member pointed the blame at the client for her clear and deliberate violations. Her actions should be a crime. In fact, tampering with remains is a crime in many states. In fact, in Florida, there is a suit filed and pending trial in a $200 Million case concerning the mishandling and desecration of human cremains.

Mr. Gross should contact an attorney in Florida and consider filing suit against the "agent" (named individually) and the whole of the TSA (as its own entity). It won't change what happened to Grandpa. However, a judgement against the TSA and that agent would send a clear message to the TSA:  "You cannot make up your own rules, on a whim, without proper, constitutional legislation." Like the EPA and other federal bureaucracies, the TSA fails to see who they really work for. The unions have mislead them. They need to learn a hard lesson. That lesson is that they work for us, the tax payers. We entrust them to do a job in an efficient, effective, and professional manner. While most do not abuse that trust, the few who do are giant tarnish stains.

The travesty to Mr. Gross and his family lies not only in the tragedy of Grandpa's passing, but the desecration by the TSA and humiliation at their hands thereafter. The travesty to all US Citizens is that this union worker should be fired with prejudice (meaning garnering another federal job will be difficult). Instead, her union will probably just give her a few days off and mandate some sensitivity training as well as some little letter stating she needs to check the company policies before acting like a jackass. She should be prosecuted. Instead, she'll get a couple of days off from work.