Monday, October 15, 2012

TSA Gives US Another Reason to Scrap Them

Thanks To The PPACA, We Now Offer Free Mamagrams, Pap-Smears, and Prostate Exams Before You Fly

I have written several articles and Op-Eds about the TSA. Within them I have explained the necessity for some organization being responsible for securing transportation hubs. Within them I have also highlighted organizational and procedural shortcomings, problems with their hiring practices, lack of proper education and oversight, and the dangers of having the workers unionized. I have even given examples of negligence and criminal activity conducted by TSA workers.

In the latest published incident, the TSA demonstrated more procedural problems when, while just "doing their job", screening agents targeted Dana Loesch. A few months ago, they put her husband, Chris Loesch, through an invasive screening. This time, it was Dana who was "gate raped".

In Dana's own account, the TSA officials at Phoenix Airport were professional and nice. It was not their demeanor. Something else was wrong. Simply, it's screening policies and procedures. Due to their policy, Dana was denied a public screening when requested. Others, in the past, were denied private screenings when requested. It should be the tax-paying citizens' choice.

See the "undercover" video recorded by Dana's husband, Chris Loesch:

First, Dana came up "hot" for possible explosives on a swipe screening. I have some experience with a few different screening sets. I know the false positives. What is supposed to happen with one of those false positives is that the sampled item is then supposed to go to a mass-spectrometer, vapor-trace, or other more accurate forensic tool that will break down exactly what was detected. That can take hours depending upon the sample. Travelers do not have hours to wait for a response.

What can give a false positive? Several common household chemicals can do so. Several cosmetic items can also do so. Nail polish remover made with acetone can give a false positive. Ammonia-based glass cleaner can give a false positive. Some dry cleaning chemicals can give a false positive. If you are out in a city park that was recently fertilized, you could come up "hot". Even residual fuel from filling up your gas tank can do it.

Now I posit another item for consideration. When you are issued a drivers' license, in most states, you are informed of the "implied consent" law. Those laws are constitutional only because you are driving on public roads. If you are driving on private property, the police do not have "implied consent" to force a breathalyzer or blood test on you. Most airports are not public property. They are private property. In addition, there is no "implied consent" law for air travel. Unlike a drivers' license, you do not sign an "implied consent statement of understanding" with the federal government when you purchase a plane ticket. The federal government does not own the aircraft you will travel within, the close you wear, or the carry-on you carry.

Consider that information as you read the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution which states that they must first have probable cause then get a warrant in order to search your person or your property.

So where is the line drawn between the security of American travelers and maintaining our 4th Amendment rights?

I wrote several times about procedural overhauls the TSA requires. I strongly support a necessity for TSA agents to have, at a minimum, a SECRET security clearance. The background checks greatly reduce the number of criminals within the organization. It also enables agents to receive actual threat briefings. Those threat briefings are important as they will allow proper threat and criminal profiling techniques.

Yes, there is that nasty word, "profiling". Well, all law enforcement agencies profile. If an "APB" or "BOLO" is issued for a suspect of a certain description, that is profiling. Intelligence professionals and law enforcement agencies look for current and emerging patterns of indicators for threat or criminal activity. To do so effectively, there needs to be a continuously updated list of key indicators. That list needs to be published to those who need to use it.

Sorry, TSA, being an outspoken public personality such as a conservative or libertarian radio talk show host, a reporter, a congressman (such as Rand Paul), a well-known blogger, a Soldier, or a nationally known and respected TEA Party leader does not fit any such list of indicators.

So, TSA, you messed with the wrong gal, again. It's time to batten down the hatches. The storm you asked for is about to strike.

Those who are outraged about how the TSA has evolved, contact your congressmen. It's time to write letters and make phone calls. Make sure you do your research and have facts when you do so. Do not call them and say "Get rid of the TSA because they're mean and the lady that screened me has a unibrow". Complaints are better heard if you propose a feasible solution. 

TSA, if you want advice on how to fix yourselves, here is the short list:

1. Get rid of your union.

2. Security clearances, briefings, and weekly training to include actually knowing what your equipment can and cannot do.

3. Procedural and policy changes to allow for public (or private) screenings at the traveler's request.

4. Actually accommodate the handicapped and the ill -- a little compassion goes a long way.

5. Police have to take regular classes on "Miranda" rights. You may want to conduct in-depth classes in the 4th and 5th Amendments. Stop violating them.

6. Remember who you work for -- the taxpayers. We are your bosses.