TSA “Addresses” a “Problem”

tsa checkpointRead on to see how a bureaucrat identifies and “addresses” a problem. In SF, as in business, problems are nails to be hammered with solutions; in a bureaucracy, solving the problem is an existential threat to the organization, so you hear a great deal about process and not so much about product.

And you have all kinds of metrics that measure everything but what you’re supposed to be doing. We’d bet our left you-know-what that the Director of the TSA has on his desk (or his desktop) the exact number and percentage of TSA baggage boosters and grandma gropers that are “Eskimo, Inuit, or Native Alaskan”. And we’d bet he hasn’t got accurate numbers of the wait times at all the airports where his goons test the floor level (if they’re drooling out of both corners of the mouth…) and paw the pax for prurient pleasure. And it’s a lead-pipe cinch that he has never seen a study that has put a productive price on the hundreds of millions of man-hours wasted by productive people, standing in line to be ill-used by his corps of nogoodniks.

In March, TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger visited the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport to address the problem there.

“We’re hitting this very hard. It is one of my biggest concerns right now,” he said, according to KSTP-TV.

After wait times started exceeding an hour in February, the TSA responded by increasing staffing and adding a fifth canine team.

Yeah, because everybody’s held up in the security line waiting for the dog. The one possible exception to the TSA “no one good, decent, etc.” rule. But they’re such a gang of bozos they could probably ruin even dogs. 

“I think you’re already seeing improvements right now here in Minneapolis,” Neffenger said during his early March visit.

It was just eight days later that Nikizad waited in line for more than 90 minutes and missed his flight.

Haroon Nikizad is suing the TSA for the price of his lost ticket. Good luck with that; one of the reasons that bureaucrats are so unaccountable is that the courts have granted them a Patent of Nobility that immunizes them against legal accountability. To inconvenience, hassle, rip off or abuse some mere citizen is just a matter of modern-day droit du seigneur.

Nikizad arrived at the recommended two hours lead time only to find that the TSA was going all out to excel their usual three-ring stumblebum slapstick security circus show. (Bet you can’t say that three times fast!) He was still in line for his ritual groping when his flight’s pilot not-flying wished the tower good day and changed to the RAPCONs departure frequency.

He f’d up. He trusted the TSA.

Meanwhile, how did TSA “address” the “problem”? By demanding more money from Congress, and by Neffenger going on a PR offensive, polishing the turd to a high sheen.

No one good, decent, honest, competent, moral, ethical or intelligent has ever been employed at TSA in any capacity whatsoever.


17 thoughts on “TSA “Addresses” a “Problem”

  1. Badger

    (snark warning) I’ve heard there are canines who are doing what no GO’s or SES seem to be able to do – quit, out of disgust rather than support an operation that gravity has approaching terminal velocity (terminal velocity used here being the opposite of what actually occurs in the airport terminals). Good doggies.

  2. whomever

    “And it’s a lead-pipe cinch that he has never seen a study that has put a productive price on the hundreds of millions of man-hours wasted…”

    When discussing the TSA, it’s worth remembering how many lives are lost each year due to the TSA. The delays and hassles cause some people to drive instead of fly for short trips. Since flying is much safer per passenger mile than driving, the hassle/delays actually kill hundreds of people each year.

    For one of many sources, append blog/archives/2013/09/excess_automobi.html to schneier dot com.

    The number of TSA caused fatalities since 9/11 is approximately equal to the 9/11 KIA plus the Irag/Afghan KIA totals. Food for thought.

    1. Hognose Post author

      I remember going around with people on this, on the question of mandating baby seats and buying a seat instead of allowing lap infants on airliners. Because the cost of an extra seat for the baby bumped up against price-elastic consumers, many families would drive instead, and the net result of mandating the seats is more dead babies.

      Oddly enough, lap infants survive crashes at a higher rate than other children or adults. Probably because anyone evacuating will pick up an unattended baby. But it may just be an artifact of the numbers, in a case where the thing we’re looking for (airliner crashes) has an incidence so low that any real statistical effects are subsumed in the noise.

      1. 11B-Mailclerk

        Could someone design a takeoff/landing/emergency “pod” that is effectively a small car seat in a crash cage, with a carry handle. Pop the tot into it at appropriate times. Fold it up when not in use. Bring them aboard only if tots are flying, otherwise store them at the gate check-in station.

        Basically, you wedge it between the parent and the seat-back in front.

        Flight crew includes “grab a tot on your way out” in the safety instructions.

        Over-thinking the problem?

  3. John Distai

    They stole my barbecue tools I got for free at a conference. All because of the fork. Broke my poor wife’s heart. Bastards!

    1. whomever

      The Seattle/Tacoma airport used to have a giant display of confiscated items. There were lots of Swiss Army knives, nail files, and so on. My favorite, though, was one of those triangular rubber hammers the doctor uses on your knee during a checkup, to check your reflexes or whatever (come to think of it, what is the point of that?). Anyway, it always made me chuckle. I’d imaging a terrorist using it on a pilot – ‘Fly us to Cuba, or I’ll make your lower leg jerk out again!’.

      1. Quill_&_Blade

        It’s been years now; but I was visiting my cousin out of state. The return flight was in the afternoon, so I decided to make myself useful in the morning. Found out they had a horse, but didn’t know anything about maintaining said equine (bad idea, their physiology isn’t like other pasture animals). So I went to the feed store, bought some Koppertox and a hoof pick. Horsey was nice enough to let me clean his hooves, afterward I absentmindedly put the pick in my pocket and went to airport.
        Imagine a blue plastic handled flat screwdriver, with the flattened part bent to a 90 degree corner. I’m not sure how it could be a threat against anybody with a microfiber of defense instinct, but I just -knew- it would be a problem, so, new as it was, in the trash it went.

      2. Kirk

        That’s always pissed me off; how hard would it be to have a little kiosk there at the gate, where you could drop your “contraband” into a mailer, and mail it back to yourself? As opposed to having the government prick “confiscate” it, which I do believe is an illegal taking of property by strict interpretation of the Constitution…

        Personally, I strongly suspect that the TSA bullshit is intended to incrementally get us used to being subjects, not citizens. The whole thing is a load of crap–Why on earth should they be able to confiscate your property without recompense? As I said, the extent that they should be able to do this crap is to force you to mail your verboten property to yourself, at your expense. Instead, we simply acquiesce, and allow ourselves to be turned into domestic animals.

        The whole thing is going to blow up in their faces one of these days, and I expect to see some of these low-level thugs hanging from lamp posts leading to the airports.

        Frankly, I’m kinda wondering why it is that someone hasn’t held a drumhead tribunal at some of the “town hall” meetings these politicians are so fond of, and sentenced the malefactor in question to hang by the neck until dead, dead, dead, for the crime of abrogating their oaths to support and defend the Constitution. Something like that is going to happen, I fear, in the next few years, as more and more people become disgusted with the entire sorry spectacle. And, what really sucks is that it may take something like happening before some of these asshats realize that their oaths really do mean something… Or, at least, should.

        1. John Distai

          The “confiscate” part you describe makes an interesting legal argument. Technically, they didn’t “confiscate” anything. They “prohibited” me from getting past the security lines with it in my possession. They asked me if I had others nearby to give them to, or if I wanted to check my bags at the desk. They gave me several options. So seeing that my only real options were to keep them and potentially miss my flight (the check in line was super long), or surrender them and make my flight, I “voluntarily” surrendered them. I got them for free anyhow, so easy come, easy go.

          And that’s how their confiscation game works. By voluntary surrender. You can keep it and miss your flight, or give it to us and make it.

          I suspect the reason they don’t have the mailing kiosks is that they don’t want terrorists “mailing” bombs to whomever in the airport, and they don’t want to install the IT infrastructure to make such a system work. Plus all the package cart servicing infrastructure and access controls that the Postal Service has covered, but we take for granted.

          You may not realize this, but when you go into a Post Office, you are on camera. When you use their little self check kiosk, you are on camera. It is built off an ATM that takes a picture for every transaction. And if I remember correctly, there is some regulation for packages that weigh over a pound. You are supposed to take them to a clerk, where you can be witnessed and on camera.

          So with all these controls at the Post Office, I doubt they’d institute something like you mention in the airport.

        2. Simon

          I had my knock-off leatherman confiscated at Vienna Airport a few months ago, and they did offer to mail it to me for 20 Euros. Like I said, it was a knock-off and only cost 12 Euros so I turned the offer down.

        3. Mike_C

          >how hard would it be to have a little kiosk there at the gate, where you could drop your “contraband” into a mailer, and mail it back to yourself?
          They do have such a thing, sort of. Terminal C in Boston Logan airport (Massport/Logan: bringing you 50% of the 911 planes!) has a little self-serve box with polyethelyne mailing envelopes. IIRC they are about 6×9 inches (about 15 x 23 cm /insert moon-snark here) or so, and some weight limit as well. But you can’t mail it to yourself. The envelopes go to some private company, which then repackages the contents and mails it to you. I know about this mailing service because I inadvertently left a 3-inch folding knife in my bag. Cost in the neighborhood of $15-20 bucks to mail the knife back to me (and it took about 3 weeks — knife apparently was shipped from Logan to somewhere in North Carolina, “processed” somehow, then shipped back to my house which is about 10 miles away from Logan); that wasn’t a great deal since it was a cheapish knife, but it has sentimental value: It’s the same knife I stupidly left in my carryaboard on an internal Japanese flight. That incident got me marched off to a back room with three grim-faced guards, one toting an M4 carbine. But another guard did the shouting at me. I guess each had his specific role. The Japanese are an orderly and hierarchical people :-) But I got my knife back, so no complaints.

          >They asked me if I had others nearby to give them to, or if I wanted to check my bags at the desk.
          Yeah, here in these United States that’s often said with snark, while smirking and gesturing to the hour-long line you just endured to get face to face with the smirking butthead making the facetious offer since you have to wait in line all over again if you go to the (presecurity) check-in desk. (In that Japanese incident the shouty guard – who had about two dozen words of English, putting him way ahead of my six words of Japanese, so I had no idea what was going to happen – marched me out of the secure area [oh shit!], to the desk [huh?], had the girl box and tag my knife as checked luggage [really, holy smokes this is awesome], and then marched me back through security [whew]. I made my flight and everything, and on arrival at Sapporo CTS this tiny cardboard box made its way up the conveyor belt, to the bemusement of all the other people waiting for their big suitcases.

          >he let them take it, after he put the blade under his boot and snapped it off.
          Good for your buddy. We need more attitude like that. Of course, what we really need is less dumbshittery such as the TSA or similar pseudo-security in the first place, but that’s a different story.

        4. Lea

          “That’s always pissed me off; how hard would it be to have a little kiosk there at the gate, where you could drop your “contraband” into a mailer, and mail it back to yourself?”

          Many many years ago I was 13 and went on a trip out of the country. I was in the habit of packing souvenirs in my carry on, so I carried on the knife I bought my brother. The out of country folks didn’t catch it, but Houston check in folks were a bit concerned about me bringing it on, so they helpfully put it in a rather giant boxes, which they then checked for me! Ah, the old days when people were helpful and carryon’s were free…

      3. DSM

        Back in my deployment days as we were heading, had a buddy not think and had his knife clipped into his pocket just like any other day. We were flying dedicated, contract air solely for us, but he still had to surrender the knife…regardless of the fact we were also carrying our M16s (albeit sans bolt which were locked in a foot locker in the cargo bay). So, he let them take it, after he put the blade under his boot and snapped it off. Then the security checker Jedi extraordinaire was affronted and tried to start trouble saying he had an attitude problem. All of us laughing hysterically did not help the matter either. In the end nothing happened so he didn’t end up on a list at least.

  4. Tom Stone

    The TSA is doing what it is supposed to do, conditioning the populace.
    Performing its ostensible task efficiently would lessen the effect of the conditioning.

  5. staghounds

    “…the courts have granted them a Patent of Nobility that immunizes them against legal accountability.”

    Au contraire, you have the history backwards.

    At common law, the courts had no power over the sovereign, since the sovereign created the courts in the first place. That principle carried over, our governments have always been immune from suits in their own courts .

    Any ability an American has to hold his governments accountable at all in their courts comes from very limited statutory waivers of sovereign immunity. Being able to sue the government is a gift of the government itself.

    Wikipedia has a pretty good summary-


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