Sunday, November 28, 2010

When Will The Obama Administration And TSA Wake Up?

TSA body scans and pat downs are an issue that just won't go away. The Obama administration is once again demonstrating its lack of experience in dealing with the nation's problems. The recent TSA directives are NOT making flying any safer for Americans. Instead they are needlessly causing delays at the airport and aggravating a public that wants less and less government interference.

Look at the general aviation sector(private planes and jets) of air travel. General aviation land on the same runways and airports that commercial carriers use for passenger travel. There are no security checkpoints at the fixed based operators who tend to the needs of general aviation aircraft.

The TSA has a "secure voluntary" program for fixed based operators. TSA’s Secure Fixed Base Operator Program is a proof of concept, public-private sector partnership program that will allow FBOs to check passenger and crew identification against manifest or eAPIS filings for positive identification of passengers and crew on board general aviation aircraft. If you click on the link above you will find this question and answer.

The passengers and/or crewmembers do not wish to participate in this program. Is the flight prohibited from departing the Secure FBO location, or from entering U.S. airspace?
No. The Secure Fixed Base Operator Program is a voluntary initiative. No flight should be delayed or otherwise affected if an individual chooses not to participate in the program. Go figure. Who is the moron at TSA that came up with body scans and pat downs?

Hangars are not monitored where the planes are stored. In many cases one can drive onto the airport environment by simply punching in a code that is not unique to each pilot at a gate designed to keep the public out. There is usually only one code for the entire airport.

Turning a general aviation aircraft into a "bomb laden wagon" is simple. If Timothy McVie was able to load a truck with incendiaries terrorists would have no problem doing the same with small aircraft.

In 1994 Frank Eugene Corder flew a single engined Cessna into the White House. Despite being detected on radar the Secret Service was not able to stop the crash into the presidential mansion. Even if a private aircraft were detected in an airport environment there is simply no credible way of knowing whether it is a threat or not. This comment was made about the White House incident.

"The scenario for a crackpot pilot being able to do that is within reason," said Leo Janssens, president of the Ohio-based Aviation Safety Institute. "It's almost impossible to keep planes out of that area because it's so close to National Airport." It is definitely impossible to keep private aircraft out of the airport environment.

You can't take a file or scissors on an airplane. But those lucky enough to carry an American Express Centurion Card(also known as the American Express Black Card) have a tool that can slice anyone at any time. It is made of titanium. Holders are only required to put it through the scanner at the airport, not place it in their baggage for stowing underneath in the cargo hold.

The TSA has not solved one problem with body scanning or pat downs. What they did was convince more and more people that the government wants more control over our lives. Liberty and justice for all is out the window. If a teacher can be fired and arrested for groping a student what gives the government the right to ignore the law and take away our civil liberties?

Damon Root writes this assessment on body scanners and pat downs.

Air travelers now face a few bad choices: Submit to the body scanner, endure an invasive manual pat-down or accept an $11,000 civil fine. This is security theater at its finest. Congress needs to revisit these protocols completely—starting with a total halt to the obscenely expensive and jarringly ineffective full-body scanner.

Despite what their proponents would have us believe, body scanners are not some magical tool to find all weapons and explosives that can be hidden on the human body. Yes, the scanners work against high-density objects such as guns and knives—but so do traditional magnetometers.

And the scanners fare poorly against low-density materials such as thin plastics, gels and liquids. Care to guess what [Christmas bomber Farouk] Abdulmutallab's bomb was made of? The Government Accountability Office reported in March that it's not clear that a scanner would've detected that device.

Read this New York Post Op-Ed on the cost of the scanners.

If the ineffectiveness of body scanners is not enough to give the public pause, the cost ought to be.

An army of executives for scanner-producing corporations -- mostly former high-ranking Homeland Security officials -- successfully lobbied Congress into spending $300 million in stimulus money to buy the scanners. But running them will cost another $340 million each year. Operating them means 5,000 added TSA personnel, growing the screener workforce by 10 percent. This, when the federal debt commission is saying that we must cut federal employment rolls, including some FBI agents, just to keep spending sustainable.

Why cut funding for the people who actually catch terrorists to add more pointless hassles at the airport? (Going through a body scanner also takes longer -- the process is slower than magnetometers.)

Scanners clearly fail an honest cost-benefit analysis. Yet it's privacy that has the traveling public up in arms. Understandably so -- the message the TSA is sending us is: "Be seen naked or get groped."

We tell our children not to talk to strangers, but now a government functionary gets to fondle away just because he has a badge?

Since when are airplanes the only things terrorists want to blow up? Evidently the Obama administration didn't pay attention the last election.


Anonymous said...

If they discontinue the procedures now and something happens, the TSA will be vilified for caving in and risking public safety.

Estelle Edwards said...

People should srart looking into private air charter services. You often get discounted rates if you're sharing the plane with other people going to the same destination. Then, there's also Amtrak, the upscale charter bus services, and cruise ships. Other than that, join the boycott of all air travel until the TSA is disbanded. Visit the link to my Meetup group: