Lets discuss the TSA.
So very recently I had to go through the TSA twice, in total I believe I’ve gone through four times. One to Washington, one from Washington, one too Missouri, one from Missouri. In total I have flown from four Separate airports since the implementation of the TSA that I can recall, the San Jose International Airport, the Oakland International Airport, SeaTac, and the Kansas City International Airport. I will be discussing each of these a bit and discussing some feelings about the entire situation.
On September 11th, 2001, Four planes were hijacked and the largest single terrorist attack on the US was carried out. There are about 23,000 flights commercially in the US every single day, I’ve seen numbers considerably larger than this but I want to be conservative with the upcoming calculations. I am not aware of any appreciable difference in daily commercial flight rates from 1990 until today [If there are adjust your numbers as necessary]. There were 3,905 days from the first day of 1990 until September 11th, for a grand total of 89,815,000 commercial flights in total. Of those 89.8 million you had 6 that were hijacked in total. The most interesting of these that is lesser known happened in 1994, FedEX Flight 705 where a disgruntled employee planned to use the plane like a cruise missile against a FedEX building. Sound familiar? We’ll come back to that. The other of the non 9/11 hijackings actually didn’t take place in the US and just ended here after negotiations so I’m not going to count it, that means we have 5 hijackings total that all share the same MO.
This means 5 in 89,815,000 flights were compromised with the old security system. That’s a security success rate of 99.9994430%. This means that if you were to fly every single day of your life a plane you were on would be hijacked once every 179,533.21 flights. The average flight takes about 2.9 hours in the US, this means it would on average take you 520,704.31 hours before a hijacking occurred. That’s 59.4 years of your life, every day, flying.
So if I told you there was something out there that had the chance of killing you once every 59 years that you did it how would you react? You are 419% more likely to be killed in a car accident any time you go out driving than you are to be killed (or hijacked) on an aircraft. Considering the fear that people have shown towards flying and the acceptance they’ve had towards the TSA I am left wondering if all these people sweat and tremor in fear each time they get into their car?
So regardless of these numbers there were 4 planes hijacked on September 11th, and 2,996 people died. I would never wish to trivialize any death, they are incredibly powerful and tragic events for all involved. I would note that the yearly traffic fatality rate in the US was at 40,000 in 2004, keep that in mind for perspective in terms of fear and response to the incident.
All 4 of these hijackings could have been prevented with nothing more than a reinforced cockpit door. The hijackers themselves were lucky that the US is not more prone to terror attacks or none of the flights would have been hijacked, with the exception of one of the flights the belief of everyone on the flights that hit the Pentagon and the Twin Towers was that they were just being momentarily held hostage. It was the trusting nature of the the average American citizen and the inability to understand extreme foolishness (which is the nicest thing that can be said about extremism) of some people.
After the incidents the cockpit doors on all commercial Aircrafts in the US were reinforced. This coupled with a more observant security force in airports would literally eliminate the problem in terms of domestic attacks. If you recall the FedEX flight I mentioned earlier the 9/11 attacks were not even acts of horrible genius, the terrorists merely copied a previous attempt and changed the targets. These men are not and were not geniuses. Further the few incidents since have all been incredible failures, with no new idea they are forced to try and “make things up” and you are left with people lighting their feet or scrotums on fire. I may be mistaken also but as far as I can tell every single incident has been by a non-American citizen (US terrorists are more prone to using firearms in public places).
We’ll start first with the shoe bomber, after this incident the rules changed and people were required to put their shoes on the XRay machine. Note that this would not have caught his shoe setup had he run it through (or it would have been very unlikely), you would need to actually chemically test the shoes. The best an XRay can do is possibly alert someone that the shoes have been augmented and even that isn’t likely given the average vigilance of the attendants.
So this was our first real step towards pandering to cowardice. The entire purpose of terrorism is to deliver a message and to incite fear in your target. The US has in the wake of this entire incident been all too happy to bend over and take the hits, and worse still, the part that sickens me the most, profit has been made from this whole incident.
But lets not get too far ahead of ourselves. XRays on your shoes would be very unlikely to catch a bomb in a shoe (not that anyone smart enough to make it work is actually going to try, case in point the idiot linked above). Shoes are pretty innocuous, you can have people remove them and there is no foul. There were jokes after this incident “What if a person hides the bomb in their ass?” It appears that someone was listening and so you had the underwear bomber. He lit his balls on fire and went to jail. If I had to take two things I’d never want to happen and mash them together for maximum misfortune, those might not be the top options but they are certainly high on the list.
So what do we do now?! We can’t tell people to take off their underwear. So comes the backscatter machines. These machines would not have caught the underwear bomber, which shouldn’t surprise you as that is the theme of the entire venture. They are however expensive and that’s why they are so perfect for the US, overpriced and inefficient systems masked as quality and security are our bread and butter.
These machines hit you with ionizing x-rays on the surface tissue of your body. The impact of these systems is cumulative, each time you use them the dangers that extra localized radiation entails accumulates. What makes it all the more hilariously morbid is that they don’t even work. A nation in fear spends top dollar on food, flights, and taxes to pay for an organization to take images of them naked and at least 35,000 of these images were saved to hard drives that people were assured did not exist. You get what you pay for I suppose.
“But they said the machines are safe!” You might be thinking, reminding me of the arguments between HFCS and Sugar “It’s the same thing! (Then why use HFCS?)” Have you noticed that individuals 65 and over are not subjected to the machine? This isn’t just because this is the largest demographic of Voters in the US (actually it probably has nothing to do with this, that was my initial assumption) but it is because they know they are dangerous and that people 65 and over are the most likely to be negatively impacted by these machines.
Fantastic! Nothing like increasing your risk of cancer for absolutely no security gain at all! This is the genuine theme of the TSA, I wouldn’t knock the individuals who work for the company seeing as I’m sure many of them took the job to be employed and not because they wanted to grope children or busty women.
I will however knock the organization as a whole because it is a phenomenal waste of tax dollars and it provides something much worse than mere incompetence, it provides a completely unqualified sense of security. When people feel safe and secure they are less likely to do what actually works and that’s be vigilant, not being vigilant and informed was what cost all those lives. This isn’t a case of blaming the victim either, they were all truly victims and the entire thing is a grand example of complete cockbaggery. These people were victims of the unknown unknown, you cannot truly prepare for this specifically but can only better your chances at dealing with it when it presents itself.
If I had to rate my personal experiences with the TSA I would rate them in this order: Kansas City #1, SeaTac #2, San Jose #3, and Oakland #4. I would rate KC and SeaTac far higher than their counterparts.
When we came back from the KC airport we were met with 2 lines, one for the backscatter machine and another for the metal detector. You are given the option to walk through the metal detector and any suspicious clothing is given a pat down. Further I was given a pat down only in the suspicious locations (large pockets and loose spots), this is important information for when we get to Oakland.
While I will admit watching a woman in a wheelchair get put through backscatter was morbidly fascinating to me (after all there are a lot of disabled terrorists wheeling around) the entire operation was friendly and it treated law abiding American citizens as they should be, with some goddamn respect. I’m not a nationalist but if we are going to circle jerk about how well we treat Americans and how great Americans are then we shouldn’t be treating people like violent felons at the damn airport.
SeaTac was similar but actually more reserved, I might have rated it at #1 if I hadn’t been to Oakland before Kansas City. I remember it very vividly because of how much different it was from San Jose. I walked up to the Backscatter and the Metal Detector and the gentlemen standing between them actually pointed me to the Metal Detector. You could argue this was racial profiling and I wouldn’t disagree, but political correctness is entirely obnoxious and has no place in this situation. Refer back to my point about how Americans commit acts of Terrorisms within US borders. The goal is usually to survive the attack which you couldn’t do with a plane Hijacking or with explosives at 30,000 feet.
I walked through and didn’t beep and the man on the other side of the detector waved a hand metal detector towards the rollers for our items. He smiled and told me to have a nice day and I told him the same. I’d have given all these folks some cupcakes had I come equipped.
San Jose is an interesting beast by contrast. The people I met there the first time were, to put it charitably, assholes. I told them I’d rather use the metal detector and the man actually got mad. He told me “It’s much faster to use the backscatter!” And being the pacifist that I am I ended up going through it, during this time other people made it through the metal detector before they had finished even giving me the instructions for the damn machine.
What made it worse was someone sweaty or something had apparently been in it because you could see the ashy outline of a human body behind me. It reminded me of the images from Hiroshima and Nagasake where people had been vaporized by the strike. Not only that but I was taking the stance you might see on cops after someone is caught fleeing from a Rape or Assault.
I asked myself what crimes I had committed, what signs I was showing of being a danger, and just how the hell did I end up in this situation. Everything came back with no answers. They irradiated my body and waved me out, shock and surprise it would appear I’m not packing high explosives in my medium TMNT t-shirts.
Oakland however takes the cake. We walked up and said we wanted to go through the metal detector and they made us use that really retarded line “Opt Out”. We walked through and they grabbed to people of proper genders for Liz and myself. Keep in mind that I’m wearing tight pants and a fairly snug shirt. If I’m hiding any kind of bomb it is because I’ve surgically removed part of my body and replaced it Iron Man style.
During this time 8-9 people walked right through the Metal detector without so much as a passing graze of a palm. A few old people and what looked to be an entire volleyball team. I’m guessing that because they were a bit too attractive to not win a sexual harassment lawsuit they just got a pass.
Regardless after the long lecture of how I was about to be fondled I was given a fairly impressive pat down. It was only in retrospect that I realized he even pat down the exposed parts of my arms from the elbow up. I’m curious if he was hoping to find my C4 Humeri. Regardless he gave me a pretty swift backhand to the balls on the way up but I was mostly unoffended by the entire ordeal. He looked like he would have rather been fishing and I’m not exactly a catch if you are into men (trust me, lots of sexier men out there, go fondle that Fassbender).
In fact the entire ordeal was much less offensive than the machine itself. What angered me was the fact that I watched a bunch of people just walk on by. In fact they even told us that we were the first 2 opt outs for the entire day, the man filling out the paper didn’t look like he knew what to write.
So that’s something, 135 lb White American Male with a Passport and spotless record, better give him a thorough pat down because he’s certainly Al Qaeda material.
If I had to suggest it I would say that you are better off punching yourself in the dick than taking a plane out of San Jose or Oakland. But if you end up in SeaTac or Kansas City I can’t really complain, they do exactly what should have been done and all that ever should be done. You walk through a metal detector, suspicious people are checked, and they x-ray your bags. It’s the minimum amount of invasion before you have an extreme depreciation in efficacy.
The TSA exists for no better reason than to prove that if you want to make a large amount of money in the US you merely need to feed on people’s fears. Fox News has proven this in fantastic ways in the last decade.
If you are afraid to fly that is alright, I wasn’t too hot on my flight to Japan (which turned out to be the first flight of my entire life, I don’t suggest a 15 hour flight to be your first). The first time we hit Turbulence I vowed that if I died and found out there was a god that I would beat the shit out of them the moment we met. Basically I knew at that point I had plenty of other things I wanted to do and if this really was just all a test I was about to flip my lid.
But it wasn’t, I made it to Japan and it was sort of like a pre-wedding honeymoon in a foreign land. Wonderful trip and wonderful people…but I digress.
If you think the TSA is acceptable and that the backscatter machine is the least you could do as an American Citizen, you are not an American. Short of the good graces of merely being born here the closest any person in this category can claim to be is a coward.
The very last thing you should ever do in response to terrorism is to act out in fear. This is surrendering to the predator and it does nothing but net them the win.
There are generations upon generations of Americans who would literally be spiraling within their graves shouting in protest if they could, this entire incident is laughable and insulting. I am at times a nearly non-functioning neurotic, and even to me this entire thing is outlandish. You couldn’t write a book about this because the population would seem so critically unbelievable. A bunch of pant wetting children, that’s the only way I can describe this.
“It must be nice living in that innocent world of yours.” I’ve heard, not so much when you realize that you are more likely to be killed by your own goddamn furniture. I literally cannot have a single ounce of respect for anyone that thinks the TSA is necessary and only a pittance of respect for those that think they actually help in their current state.
These assholes [terrorists] didn’t think up their original plot and since then each successive attempt has been a more phenomenal failure than the one prior. More Americans die in the response than have from the incidents themselves. Over twice as many in fact. It would appear we learned nothing from Pearl Harbor.
Where is the TSA to save us from furniture?!
What madness is this!