Category Archives: Security Theater

I Saw Daddy Pat Down Santa Claus

If you’re a holiday traveler, you will appreciate this song. Click here if the embed doesn’t work.

In related news, due to holiday traveling, there will be limited blogging until late next week. A scheduled post or two will pop up in the meantime, but that’ll be about it. Thanks for reading, and see you then.

CEI Podcast for August 9, 2012: Getting TSA to Follow the Law


Have a listen here.

When the TSA installed full-body scanners in airports across the country, it did so illegally. More than a year after a court ordered TSA to open up its full-body scanner policy to public comment, the agency has refused to do so. Land-use and Transportation Policy Analyst Marc Scribner explains how a related lawsuit could force TSA to follow the law, and calls for de-nationalizing airport security.

TSA Thwarts Make-a-Wish Bomber

Reader Geoffrey sends along this picture of his friend’s son being detained by the TSA. The boy has cancer, and was on a trip to Disney sponsored by the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Click to enlarge; original image here.

TSA Roundup

Everyone’s favorite sexy-searchers are back in the news, but not for the right reasons.

Celebrities Are Not Immune from TSA Indignities

William Shatner’s pants fell down in public view during a recent pat-down.

TSA Compassion

The worst part might be that the agent didn’t apologize. She laughed:

John Gross, a resident of Indianapolis’ south side, was leaving Florida with the remains of his grandfather — Mario Mark Marcaletti, a Sicilian immigrant who worked for the Penn Central Railroad in central Indiana — in a tightly sealed jar marked “Human Remains.”

Gross said he didn’t think he’d have a problem, until he ran into a TSA agent at the Orlando airport.

It goes downhill from there.

TSA in the News

The TSA has been making a lot of headlines lately. None of them are very flattering:

  • A woman going through Madison, Wisconsin’s airport was reduced to tears and was visibly shaking during her pat-down. A fellow traveler took video, which you can see here. Many victims of sexual abuse have reported feeling similar emotions during pat-downs.
  • Dina Frank is 7 years old and has cerebral palsy. She needs leg braces and crutches to walk, and has had a double hip replacement. Since she can’t walk through the metal detectors, she has to get pat-down every time she flies. The screeners were apparently aggressive as well as thorough, and upset the poor child. The screening took so long, her family ended up missing their flight. TSA defended the actions, saying proper procedures were followed.
  • A now-former TSA officer is facing 20 years in prison for trafficking painkillers. Twenty people have been arrested in the case, and two TSA officers have so far pled guilty. If the FDA and DEA weren’t so intent on limiting the supply of pain relief, this black market would never have emerged. And the sentence is entirely out of line for a victimless crime. But it does show that TSA employees are corruptible.
  • Two TSA employees in Los Angeles have also been charged with drug trafficking. They allegedly accepted cash bribes to let narcotics pass through LAX.
  • A Congressman who co-sponsored an anti-TSA bill received a particularly vigorous pat-down, and is calling it assault.
  • An elderly couple with two artificial knees and an artificial hip between them weren’t that surprised to set off a metal detector and be patted down as a result. But they were surprised to go  through multiple pat-downs, and that $300 in cash was stolen.
  • A frequent flyer, feeling harassed in Portland, Oregon’s airport, lost his cool and stripped naked. According to the police report, “Mr. Brennan’s actions caused two screening lanes to be closed and while some passengers covered their eyes and their children’s eyes and moved away from the screening area, others stepped out of the screening lanes to look, laugh and take photos of Mr. Brennan.”
  • And as a bonus, a (non-TSA) London screener gave a surprisingly thorough screening to supermodel Bar Rafaeli, which she remarked “left no doubt about her sexual preferences.”

TSA Pats Down 4-Year Old After She Hugs Her Grandmother

Because Grandma didn’t go through security. TSA officials defended the pat-down, saying it was proper procedure.

Which means it’s well past time to change procedures.

Another Dubious TSA Trifecta

First, a Dallas TSA inspector is accused of stealing multiple iPads from passengers’ luggage.

Second, a drag queen’s “chicken cutlet” breast enhancers violated the TSA’s 3.4 ounce limit for liquids or gels. The accessories in question, which are stuffed into brassieres, are clearly not bombs. The man was detained for an hour until TSA figured out he wasn’t a security threat. Fortunately, he did make his flight.

And third, former TSA chief Kip Hawley writes that the TSA is “broken” and calls for reform in a Wall Street Journal op-ed — three years after he left the agency. Better late than never,  I guess.

TSA Agent Faces Child Pornography Charges

According to the Boston Herald, this is not the first time this has happened:

At least two other TSA officers assigned to Logan have faced sex charges in the past two years. Sex charges against others have been reported in Virginia, New Hampshire, Nevada, Georgia and other states.