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Congress Wants Your TSA Stories 328

Posted by timothy
from the and-so-do-I dept.
McGruber writes "Transportation Security Administration (TSA) program challenges and failures will be the focus of a joint hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, on Monday, March 26, 2012. The Hearing is titled 'TSA Oversight Part III: Effective Security or Security Theater?' Bruce Schneier is scheduled to be a witness at this hearing. Additional information on the hearing is posted on the oversight committee's website. The Congressmen who serve on these committees are soliciting questions from the public to ask TSA officials at the hearing ... provided the public is willing to submit their questions via Facebook."
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Congress Wants Your TSA Stories

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  • via Facebook only? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:14PM (#39457359) Journal
    There's the first complaint, right there...
    • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <<elmuerte> <at> <drunksnipers.com>> on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:18PM (#39457389) Homepage

      Indeed. It's aol all over again. For someone that doesn't have a facebook account it becomes more and more difficult to access parts of the internet.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:20PM (#39457419)
        I completely agree! I can't believe they aren't planning to support telnetting in and typing my story directly into the database with an RPC!
      • by aoism (996912) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:33PM (#39457521)
        Even scarier, if you have a Facebook account and want to share some links, Facebook has started to censor site URLs they believe are malicious from the Facebook walls. Try to post a link to http://www.spi0n.com/ [spi0n.com] on your wall to see it in action.
        • by Vectronic (1221470) on Friday March 23, 2012 @08:45PM (#39457963)

          Action:

          Sorry, this post contains a blocked URL
          The content you're trying to share includes a link that's been blocked for being spammy or unsafe:

          spi0n.com
          91.121.47.226

          For more information, visit the Help Center. If you think you're seeing this by mistake, please let us know.

        • Fb is obviously well along the way to begine Web 2.0 AOL's walled garden deal. And seriously, do we need it? Hell no.
        • by houstonbofh (602064) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @01:13AM (#39458963)
          Try to post a Guardian link... There's and app for that... Really... A fucking app to read a web page. Not.
          • by realityimpaired (1668397) on Saturday March 24, 2012 @08:06AM (#39459965)

            Not just the Guardian. there's several websites that have gone the way of requiring you allow their app to access your profile in order to click the link that somebody posted. I have platform apps disabled, and when I encounter this one, I move on, but I do feel sorry for all the people who don't realize that allowing this app to access your profile means you just gave all of your personal information to the website whose story you were trying to read.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              I don't feel sorry for them, they're helping to create a trap for other users because they're too dumb and/or disinterested to think about what they're doing before they do it. They're part of the problem. I don't want to shoot them or anything, I just don't feel bad for them.

        • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday March 24, 2012 @07:03AM (#39459769) Homepage Journal

          STARTED? They've started admitting it, maybe. All along it has been more difficult to post political content to facebook than vapid bullshit.

          I've done numerous tests where several politically-charged links failed in a row; their previews come up quickly, so I know facebook can access the sites, but when you click submit the link doesn't appear attached to the status update. You used to be able to tell when this had happened to someone's post because it was posted "via links" but they removed that tag from the updates so that you can't tell when a link has been removed.

          Even worse, I went back through my timeline and lo and behold, a bunch of the links I've posted are now missing, and furthermore, the ones that are missing are links with political content. Links to some vapid entertainment bullshit are still there.

          Facebook has been censoring political content for years. It's what got me to start using G+, in fact. So far everything I've posted there remains visible at least to me, so if Google is hiding my political speech from people, I don't know about it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        If I have to join Facebook to talk to Congress, does that mean that Facebook has to be regulated as a public utility?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's about maximizing the number of people they can reach. FB reaches more people than email. If they're going to pick just ONE way to collect feedback, FB is the one that reaches the most people.

      You increasingly see this elsewhere too, like companies who only accept warranty repair contacts on FB. Like it or not, it's becoming the de-facto standard way to communicate online.

      • by Kenja (541830) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:59PM (#39457691)
        Since you must have an email account to use facebook and you do not need facebook to have an email account, I would say you are wrong and that email would reach more people.
    • This. Given the lack of transparency on the lists we know about (like no-fly lists), and the role of facebook in providing info to various government agencies, wouldn't retaliation of some kind for popular and troublesome questions be a concern?
    • Please feel free to steal/use/modify any of my questions. I do not use Facebook for politics.

      What limits do you think should be placed on the TSA to avoid mission scope-creep?

      What did you think of the "digging up Marilyn Monroe" incident over Twitter? Do you believe TSA employees should screen passengers based on their twitter feed? Do you think TSA employees should be allowed to wear police-like uniforms/badges when none of them received the training of police officers? Do you think the long lines at the s

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Not sure who's choice that was... "Mr. Schneier will not testify at Monday's hearing (UPDATE: 3/23/12)"
  • Questions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:20PM (#39457415) Journal

    Is it right to sexually molest every man, woman, and child and get away with it under pretext of security? How does the USA like it's foreign tourist trade now that it's dropped off a cliff?

    That is all.

    • Re:Questions (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya@gmMENCKENail.com minus author> on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:38PM (#39457545)

      Is it right to sexually molest every man, woman, and child and get away with it under pretext of security?

      I think we all agree that it is not.
      A better question is - does Congress realize that they have the authority to dismantle TSA? Or are they simply estimating the size of the additional bureaucracy to add to the TSA?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by rtb61 (674572)

        Now a real warning needs to be issued here. Consider the TSA, consider the nature of the people involved, consider their access to highly vulnerable transport infrastructure.

        What will TSA agents do to protect their jobs and their piece of petty power, how far would they go and what are they capable of doing to justify their existence.

        Quite a significant percentage of TSA agents have proven to be of the very worst sort, so would these people bring down a airliner to protect their power base? This invest

    • by Virtucon (127420) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:48PM (#39457629)

      That's because most people are sheep. They go along with it under the pretense that it makes them feel safe. Everybody knows that after 9/11 that the same kind of crap would never happen on an airline in the US. Why? Look at the dumbshit underwear bomber kid, look at the AA flight attendant who went nuts a couple of weeks ago. [dallasobserver.com] The passengers took matters into their own hands to help resolve the issue. People will get up and defend themselves so unless would-be attackers come heavily armed there won't be a repeat. What the TSA has done is create long lines and an illusion of security. I fly every week of the year and I can tell you that I have more of a chance of falling out of the sky from a flock of geese than I do a would-be terrorist on a plane. What I want to know is why the TSA isn't installing anti-aircraft guns around airports to take care of the bird menace! [avherald.com]

       

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      There shouldn't be any screening on domestic flights, just as there's no screening if I drive my car cross-country (and then drive it into a Federal Reserve and blow it up). We have to maintain at least SOME of our rights, including the right to travel wherever we wish internal to the U.S. border.

    • Re:Questions (Score:5, Informative)

      by artor3 (1344997) on Friday March 23, 2012 @08:10PM (#39457755)

      How does the USA like it's foreign tourist trade now that it's dropped off a cliff?

      I'd like to fact check that statement. It's a shame that the government doesn't keep track of those numbers. Oh wait... they totally do! [doc.gov]

      Let's see:
      year - millions of visitors - change from previous year
      2000 - 44.6 - n/a
      2001 - 39.2 - -12%
      2002 - 35.9 - -8%
      2003 - 34.5 - -4%

      Steep drop in the years following 9/11, but wait, what's this?

      2004 - 38.2 - +11%
      2005 - 41.1 - +8%
      2006 - 43.5 - +6%
      2007 - 48.4 - +11%
      2008 - 50.5 - +4%
      2009 - 54.9 - +9%
      2010 - 59.7 - +9%
      2011 - 62.3 - +4%

      Wow, US tourism is absolutely booming! That's an increase of at least 4% (average of 8%) every year for nearly a decade! That greatly exceeds the world's average birth rate, especially when you consider that the birth rate is lower in places where most tourists come from. In light of these numbers, perhaps you'd like to reconsider your position?

      • Re:Questions (Score:4, Insightful)

        by nazsco (695026) on Friday March 23, 2012 @09:25PM (#39458209) Journal

        happen to have a comparisson with global tourism size?

        what if for every other country it doubled instead of 12% a year?

        • Re:Questions (Score:5, Informative)

          by artor3 (1344997) on Friday March 23, 2012 @09:55PM (#39458339)

          That's an interesting question. I did some digging, and came up with two things. The first is a new-found respect for the US government's data organization, which for all its flaws is way more accessible than Britain's or France's. The second is a document [www.germany.travel] out of Germany that mercifully covers tourism across the EU, so I didn't have to dig up any more sources.

          You can read it for yourself (there's some interesting stats on who goes where and how much they spend), but the upshot is the global average growth is around 4%, and the EU is a bit below average at 3.4%, whereas the US is quite a bit above average (around 8%), as shown by the numbers from my prior post. Interestingly, the Middle East is seeing the most growth of anywhere in the world, at a whopping 14% pace. You'd think people would be avoiding the region given the instability, but apparently that's not the case.

      • Re:Questions (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fluffy99 (870997) on Friday March 23, 2012 @10:40PM (#39458477)

        Wow, US tourism is absolutely booming! That's an increase of at least 4% (average of 8%) every year for nearly a decade!

        The reason for that is the weak US dollar. We have a govt that is artificially keeping "inflation" low to convince the public we aren't in a recession, but at the same time printing money like crazy and devaluing the dollar. We have lots of foreigners coming here for vacation because it's cheap for them.

        http://www.wealthdaily.com/articles/us-dollar-value/2627 [wealthdaily.com]

        • Re:Questions (Score:5, Interesting)

          by artor3 (1344997) on Friday March 23, 2012 @11:09PM (#39458589)

          That was my first thought (the weak dollar part, not the conspiracy theory part), but it fails to explain why US tourism has continued to rise in the 2008-2011 period, despite the dollar rebounding during those years. Your chart stops at the start of 2008, which was about as low the dollar got. It hit bottom a few months later, in April of 2008, at around 72 points. Since then, it has bounced back and is hovering around 80 points. Here's my source. [fxstreet.com]

    • I wouldn't ask the second question unless I had numbers showing it HAS dropped off a cliff, otherwise you might undermine your point. The first question could be framed a bit better too: "Is it right to touch US citizens all over their body - regardless of how young they are - in the name of security theater?".
  • by Virtucon (127420) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:21PM (#39457427)

    By opting out from the stupid Nudeo Scan 5000s I get two great benefits. First I get free bag service through security and second I get a free bump/wart/growth check on a weekly basis. All of this courtesy of the TSA. Besides I keep an otherwise un-employable person employed and I keep the latex glove industry in business.

    • by Mitreya (579078)

      By opting out from the stupid Nudeo Scan 5000s I get two great benefits.

      You forget the 3rd bonus benefit:
      Waiting for an available TSA screener and wondering if anyone is going to abscond with your out-of-the-bag laptop on the other side.

      • by Virtucon (127420)

        That's why I keep my wallet on me when I go through that. Even though I try to keep an eye on things there's always a chance but as soon as I walk past the scanner I try to locate my stuff and then have my man servant (TSA agent) handle the bags. It's not perfect. I then get to watch as the frustrated TSA agent then has to take my wallet and walk it over to the xray machine, put it in a little tray, watch it go through, then pick it up and bring it back to me.

    • By opting out from the stupid Nudeo Scan 5000s I get two great benefits. First I get free bag service through security and second I get a free bump/wart/growth check on a weekly basis. All of this courtesy of the TSA. Besides I keep an otherwise un-employable person employed and I keep the latex glove industry in business.

      How about if they start doing colonoscopies? It's one of the most underused cancer screening tools in our toolbox (for fairly obvious reasons), but then you could improve YOUR health and the safety of the country. After the procedure, you'd be so groggy you wouldn't care about the lousy service on the plane or the lack of food.

      Full of win!

      • by Virtucon (127420)

        Cripes! that would be great! Then I could cancel my health insurance too!

      • Now that's a shitty idea. I'm not even talking about some idiot with the fine motor skills of the average autist handing a delicate area of my body, I dread how they'd clean the equipment. I mean, have you taken a look at the average TSA goon lately? Now think that the average person cleans himself usually better than his tools and reconsider!

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:22PM (#39457439)

    The thing that annoys me about the anti-security theater rant, is that in fact there is a non-zero value even to security theater.

    Yes you CAN get past screen checkpoints as we have them. But it does not mean we should give them up totally. Even just a veneer of security can be enough to dissuade a lot of people from trying something, or to make them nervous enough they screw up. It's enough of a deterrent that a lot of people simply will not try who might be convinced otherwise, because signing up to die in a glorious explosion is one thing but being set up to rot in jail is quite another and without honor.

    That said, the TSA as-is has gone way, way too far. We should have an immediate jump back to pre-9/11 security screenings, meaning we all get to keep shoes, bring water, and walk only through metal detectors, not the stupid body scanners that mean you cannot even keep a kleenex in your pocket but you can strap a gun to the side of your body.

    I do not care about the remote chance of a plane being blown up in the air, and there is no way hijacking a plane will succeed any more. Sure they could blow up a plane over a city but that's not going to take out a building as they would like to do. So let us have some dignity and easier passage on to our plane again. Heck, let loved ones meet you at the gate instead of shutting down the airport if one guy gets through the line with an unregistered kleenex by accident.

    • by Zorque (894011)

      I agree, studies have shown people will commit far less crime if they feel they're being watched in some way (including by unobtrusive methods such as billboards with pictures of eyes on them). Security theater isn't entirely worthless and there are ways of doing it without invading people's privacy.

      • by devitto (230479)

        Oh dear, you are wrong - Theatre is BY DEFINITION harmful - it is NOT like security-through-obscurity, or deterrents.

        Cameras are deterants, and reduce unwelcome behavior - fact.
        Theatre is like changing the graphs to indicate 'crime is reducing' - it prevents people from making correct decisions.

      • "Doing TheRightThing(TM) when you think nobody is watching" is the best definition of morality I know. Religion hijacks this by convincing you god is always watching.
    • The thing that annoys me about the anti-security theater rant, is that in fact there is a non-zero value even to security theater.

      If people are aware that it's security theater, I doubt it would make much of a difference.

      It's enough of a deterrent that a lot of people simply will not try who might be convinced otherwise

      I have no idea how anyone could possibly know that a "lot" of people were deterred by the security theater.

      • by devitto (230479)

        Though @cheekyjohnson makes good points, the fact is that Security Theatre is not a risk deterrant, like cameras or handguns.
        Deterrents are perfectly well understood and accepted risk reduction techniques.

        Security Theatre's aim is to mislead those at risk into believing security is better than it is - and to fool them into making poor judgement.

        A major risk after 9/11 was that people wouldn't want to fly, so extra security checks at that time were effective against terrorism, and reasonable deterrants.

        Now t

    • by dgatwood (11270) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:32PM (#39457509) Journal

      Yes, there's non-zero value to having some visible security. I would argue that the security checkpoints aren't useful at providing visible security, though; the screeners are not even armed. They're about as relevant to security as the bag checkers on your way out of Fry's. If someone gets caught, they can simply run away, and there's probably a pretty good chance they'd make it to a car waiting for them curbside.

      Want to make people honestly feel safer? Station armed national guard or actual police at every checkpoint like they did right after 9/11. Then ditch the body scanners in lieu of either metal detectors or nothing at all, and perform a cursory X-ray of people's bags. Train the national guard troops to make eye contact with every passenger. That would be about a thousand times more effective at making people feel safer and a billion times more effective at scaring the bejeezus out of would-be attackers than what they're doing now, all while being a lot less invasive for legitimate travelers.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Also, security theater may be useful to a limited degree, but security theater that makes people feel violated is unacceptable. If you're going to cross those sorts of lines as the TSA does every day, there had damn well be a damn good reason, and the public has a right to know in detail what that reason is. That means we expect:

        • a regularly updated list of terror plots successfully foiled or scared off by this invasion of our privacy,
        • a detailed accounting of who benefits financially from the purchase of
        • by devitto (230479)

          No - Security Theatre is always harmful, by definition. Deterrents, are a different kind of thing.

      • Oh come on. Those were kids. They were bored. If their firearms were loaded, they were more dangerous to everyone than the putative terrorists. If you want to scare people, use the Israeli method. Guys in civilian clothes and Uzis that have clearly been used and who are wandering around with pained, hostile looks. That and the jeeps with recoiless rifles that greet you on the tarmac. Nothing says security like a jeep full of soldiers and a big ol gun.

        No halfway measures.

      • They're about as relevant to security as the bag checkers on your way out of Fry's. If someone gets caught, they can simply run away, and there's probably a pretty good chance they'd make it to a car waiting for them curbside.

        Are you suggesting that the potential terrorist wearing a bomb be shot in the back when attempting to run away?

        Hopefully, they'd wait for him to get in the car and far away from the crowds of people before they'd choke off his exit and potentially shoot him (or detonate him).

    • We should have an immediate jump back to pre-9/11 security screenings, meaning we all get to keep shoes, bring water, and walk only through metal detectors, not the stupid body scanners that mean you cannot even keep a kleenex in your pocket but you can strap a gun to the side of your body.

      I do not care about the remote chance of a plane being blown up in the air, and there is no way hijacking a plane will succeed any more

      Didn't we say in the pre-9/11 days that you couldn't hijack a plane? Or do we go back to pre-9/11 security screenings until $DISASTER takes place? Kinda like how parent's tell their kids, "If you behave for 5 hours you can have your TV privileges back" I can see it now, "If you don't blow up a plane for 5years, we'll take away the metal detectors and body scanners."

      • by dgatwood (11270) on Friday March 23, 2012 @08:07PM (#39457733) Journal

        Didn't we say in the pre-9/11 days that you couldn't hijack a plane?

        To my knowledge, nobody said that you couldn't hijack a plane before 9/11. It was always possible, and still is. The assumption was that if a hijacker came on board with a knife, the people would pummel him/her, whereas a gun was considerably more lethal. Thus, they protected against the latter and not the former. What they didn't count on was thirty years of complacency brought about by a lack of incidents.

        Or do we go back to pre-9/11 security screenings until $DISASTER takes place?

        No, we go back to pre-9/11 security screenings, period, even after disasters take place. When you can prove that a newer screening technology significantly improves security without fundamentally invading the privacy of the people being screened, we'll consider it. Short of such proof, we must assume that the new systems aren't actually making us safer, which means that A. we should not be spending millions of dollars every year on them, and B. we should not be subjected to the invasion of privacy that they cause.

    • by chrismcb (983081)

      The thing that annoys me about the anti-security theater rant, is that in fact there is a non-zero value even to security theater.

      But is it worth the time and the money and the safety risk of standing in line next to a garbage can full of explosives?
      Most people lock their front door, although that does pretty much nothing to stop a real thief. But the risk and inconvenience is low compared to the reward. The TSA security is expensive in both time and money. And there is actual risk involved in going through the checkpoint. But the risk that is exposed if TSA doesn't exist is actually fairly low.
      You don't go through security when y

    • by devitto (230479)

      Oh dear, you are wrong - Theatre is BY DEFINITION harmful - it is NOT like security-through-obscurity, or deterrents.

      Theatre is where the objective is to deceive - to make people believe they are secure, when they are not.

      That means you can't reasonably make judgement calls, or drive appropraite changes.

    • A very good point. So the question is, "How much theater are we buying for the price of letting people recruited through pizza box ads touch our genitals?"
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The simple fact is the TSA's power is vastly over-reaching.

      Leaving out the lengthy argument about belief and idea based motivations, there are two types of terrorists: Domestic and International.

      With domestic terrorists, your potential list is every citizen in the country. That is the way a fairly open society works. It exists somewhere between totalitarianism, and anarchy. We're somewhere in the middle, where specific sectors of society that shift towards one of the other at any given time. With regard to

    • That is the case if the criminals don't know that the measures are fully and utterly ineffective. An empty shell of a security cam, known by criminals to be an empty shell, doesn't stop a single criminal, but it might make the average honest person not knowing it less vigilant because he feels protected.

    • It was my custom to bring a flask of fine scotch with me on flights. The first time after 9-11 I forgot about the new rules about liquids so the TSA made me pour it out. I said I'll just drink it, if its explosive I'll probably not be feeling to well after I do so. I got a small ovation from the passengers waiting behind me, and flipped off the TSA agent. *Things went better than I excpeted*
  • Schneier will _not_ be testifying. Sorry, nerdlingers.

  • by pseudofrog (570061) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:26PM (#39457467)
    TSA agents harassed, beat, and murdered me. I would have to rate my experince as "less than satisfactory."
  • A special camp, for political re education. And a little gold mining. By hand.

  • Here's my story (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Friday March 23, 2012 @07:42PM (#39457573)

    I've flown once since 9/11. Helped a friend move across the country then flew home. While I didn't exactly jet all over the world before the TSA was created, I've gone from flying every couple of years to flying once per decade and the main reason for that decline in flying has been the bullshit security theater of the TSA. Take my shoes off and put them in a tray? What the hell for? You can't run a sniffer over them while they're on my feet? When presented with absurdity, I'm wired to decline to participate and the TSA has provided plenty of absurdity. Doesn't mean I'll never fly again but I'll need a good reason.

  • by Un pobre guey (593801) on Friday March 23, 2012 @08:01PM (#39457707) Homepage
    Forcing millions and millions of people to walk barefoot over the same carpet year after year promotes super-accelerated evolution of athlete's foot fungus and has helped spread it throughout the world. TSA is therefore aiding and abetting bio-terrorism, and should be immediately shut down as specified by Patriot Acts 1 and 2.
  • Here's my story. I went through the TOTALLY-HEALTHY scanner that has no negative effects whatsoever, then was still felt up. Thankfully it was only above the belt. It was enough to turn me off flying except when that was the only viable option, which I have actively worked to avoid.
    • Thankfully it was only above the belt.

      So you're OK with the whole jiggle my moobs thing? No, I gotcha. It's cool. Whatever. Maybe I should ask for some next time.

  • Then Congress has to rename it Clown Security Theater and make the agents wear red plastic noses.

  • Dramatic stories (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rbowen (112459) Works for SourceForge on Friday March 23, 2012 @09:56PM (#39458345) Homepage

    The focus on dramatic stories is misplaced. The simple loss of dignity in traveling should be sufficient. I'm tired of being assumed to be a criminal when I travel.

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