Russell (zimzat) wrote,

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Recorded for posterity: Debating the TSA with the TSA (or, reverse psychology rebuttal)

It's probably not the brightest idea to debate about the TSA with someone who works for the TSA, but that's exactly what I did. Someone posted an article defending the TSA agents against the ill feelings and complaints of travelers. Here, I'll just let the conversation exchange tell the story. (names anonymized, just because I felt like it)


Why We Hate Airport Security | Psychology Today

I love his last line." it is far better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground"


He's trying to use reverse psychology to make people accept the loss of freedom, and to blame someone other than the people who actually institute the rules.

As his own article points out, the TSA is only looking for repeat occurrences of what has happened in the past; the next terrorist attack will always be something we didn't expect. In some cases the new rules wouldn't have even caught the original offender.

What a load of crock. I'm with Bruce Schneier when it comes to airport security. All the money spent on the new scanners and what-not could have been much better used on basic intelligence, psychological profiling, and detective footwork.


Well profiling is illegal, and He's not making a specific pitch he is just saying what people refuse to believe, and so many people who travel believe they are better tan folks who work for TSA, so y'all act accordingly.


The "loss of freedom" argument is specious at best. There is no "right" to travel by a specific method, or to travel by a specific method without being screened. If you don't like being screened, or being allowed to bring certain things with you, you can travel by other methods. With that said, we could always be doing it smarter. I continue to believe the heavy emphasis on technology has more to do with the fact that the companies making million-dollar body scanners have better lobbyists than explosives canine-handler teams that make $60K or so a year.


Profiling is not illegal, only biased-based profiling is illegal:

Saying that you're probably a terrorist because your skin is dark is illegal. Saying you're probably a terrorist because you've checked out books on how to build bombs and keep going to the airport just to watch the security line without actually going through several times a week is also suspicious, and thus legal profiling.

Bruce Schneier has multiple essays and articles on the flaws with the way the TSA is being handled. He has a recent rebuttal regarding the harms of post-9/11 security practices: Also an essay on what practices would work:


One of Schneier's recurring themes is that you have to accept a certain amount of risk, vs. trying to stop every kind of threat, every time. To that end, there are a number of pilot programs underway to move TSA to a more "risk-based" screening model that will hopefully reduce the ill feelings and complaints considerably, while still focusing on the persons most likely to be a threat.


For some reason Zimzat you seem to think that procedures and screening doesn't change based on intel, and maybe for you, the average traveller with no knowledge of the day to day workings in the organization, it doesn't. But it does. Not only that, but these people are informed how they will be screened when they are buying their tickets and they give their consent. Bottom line? Fly or don't, but stop your damned whinning.


And if someone must moan and groan, do it to the guys in Washington, not on my checkpoint where nobody has the hope of the ability to change anything.


Consent is never an excuse for taking someone's freedom (generically speaking). You could say "You agreed to be a citizen of this country and by doing so you agreed to its laws, and we have a law on the books that says you agree to be followed around and recorded 24/7 for no reason in particular, so therefor it's okay." That just doesn't fly.

As for your first argument, you've just waved your hand and said "Trust me, I know what's best for you" without giving any specifics. Sorry, I believe in facts. Until you can show me facts of how the screening process changes based on actual evidence of what works that's just not going to cut it.


And exactly what freedoms are the people I screen being denied? I'm an ardent supporter of the freedoms we enjoy in this country and I don't feel deprived flying. Continue believing your little theories while we continue giving in to those oh so intelligent people in Washington and be sure to place the blame where it belongs if something does happen alright?


Okay, let's start with being forced to only carry liquids in 1oz bottles and only in a 1qt baggie. Denying people flight based on wearing a t-shirt or carrying a purse with the picture of a gun on it. Taking away toy guns or lightsabers. Taking away toenail clippers. Requiring people take their shoes and belts off. Trying to intimidate people into going through the back scatter machines or make them think they don't have a choice and have to go through it (I've had this one personally happen to me). These are all things that, while technically don't take away a freedom, restrict it and force people into doing one thing or another. It's a very fine line.

One that does cross the line, though, is the no-fly list. As the above article says "people so dangerous they’re not allowed to fly, yet so innocent they can’t be arrested"

What's even worse is when trivial stuff gets attention yet many examples of people with guns, knives, and saw blades have made it through security. All this effort gets put into this one place, so many people get delayed, and yet stuff still makes it through.

I'm not saying this is all directly the result of TSA agents; they're simply one of the many pawns in this entire elaborate joke of a political game. The fault is with the people in Washington who are trying to act like they're doing something, trying to cover their posteriors. Or with the companies pushing their wares (see: back scatter machines). When, for most instances, the metal detectors were more than sufficient to catch most of the occurrences.

But so much more effort gets put into flight, yet so many other areas are practically ignored. It's unrealistic to expect people not to fly. I can take 3 days to get to the other side of the country, or I can take 5 hours. It's no contest; no one can take a week off for what could be a weekend round trip. That's almost like denying people access to the internet because it's not a right, when more and more things done today require the internet. Pretty soon people won't be able to function day-to-day without the internet, without going back to pioneer days when they grew and made everything themselves.

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