Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Government Transportation Politics

Confessions Of an Ex-TSA Agent: Secrets Of the I.O. Room 393

Posted by timothy
from the ma'am-this-is-for-your-own-good dept.
Jason Edward Harrington has seen some of the same frustrations, misgivings, and objections that have crossed the mind of probably every commercial airline traveler who's flown over the last decade in the U.S. One difference: Harrington got to see them from the perspective of a TSA agent. His description of the realities of the job (including learning the rote responses that agents are instructed to reassure the public with) is wince-worthy and compelling. A sample makes it clear why the TSA has such famously low morale, even among Federal agencies: "I hated it from the beginning. It was a job that had me patting down the crotches of children, the elderly and even infants as part of the post-9/11 airport security show. I confiscated jars of homemade apple butter on the pretense that they could pose threats to national security. I was even required to confiscate nail clippers from airline pilots—the implied logic being that pilots could use the nail clippers to hijack the very planes they were flying." It only gets worse from there.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Confessions Of an Ex-TSA Agent: Secrets Of the I.O. Room

Comments Filter:
  • by Connie_Lingus (317691) on Friday January 31, 2014 @09:38PM (#46125431) Homepage

    well it comforting to know that the same government that managed this program is now moving on to something as *truly* important as our and our childrens healthcare.

    right?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @09:40PM (#46125437)

    The TSA exists because Americans tolerate it.

    It's that simple.

    We hold the purse strings AND the votes. Either one alone is enough to eliminate the TSA. But we have said, en-mass, that the TSA is acceptable in our society. So it will continue.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @09:55PM (#46125505)

    If the whole country stopped any non-essential travel for 3 months... and made it clear why... and that the travel would not start again until the TSA was gone - not changed, not lip service given to "improvements" and "hearing the public voice", but actually GONE - the TSA would be eliminated within a month.

    The TSA exists because it is tolerated by the public.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @10:00PM (#46125527)

    BS. What government program has ever ended?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @10:22PM (#46125645)

    That's the problem. What do you consider non-essential? I'm thinking that a majority of people flying commercially need to do so, either because their job dictates that they be there quickly (as in, not enough time to drive across country), or they need to travel internationally and a boat is out of the question in today's world.

    As much as it would be great to boycott the industry, it just isn't feasible for those that do most of the traveling. Personally, I've never flown (commercially, anyways) and never intend to, exactly because of the bullshit hurdles, but I'm also not in a position where it matters at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @10:26PM (#46125657)

    Um, they have the Federal government in common. That's the point.

  • by bmxeroh (1694004) on Friday January 31, 2014 @10:40PM (#46125763) Homepage
    Let me know how that works for you. Protip: your tax payments aren't due in April, they're due the day you get paid. For practical reasons, they let you pay them quarterly if they're not withheld by your employer, buts rest assured you'll have penalties to pay if you wait until April.

    Extra protip: Don't take tax advice from someone on Slashdot.
  • by litehacksaur111 (2895607) on Friday January 31, 2014 @10:43PM (#46125779)
    Most of the people where I work feel the TSA is doing a good job. In fact their response reminds of the Simpson's clip where Lisa sells Homer a rock that keeps bears away. You cannot reason with people this ignorant. They actually believe that the TSA is preventing terrorism and that the only people complaining are brown people. The only way for people to question the TSA is if someone like Edward Snowden manages to get media publicity and expose a bunch of documents or expose some insider contract on those X-ray porno machines sold by Michael Chertoff.
  • by Connie_Lingus (317691) on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:08PM (#46125891) Homepage

    wrong.

    i think the US government is incredible at building roads, and it's military seems rather well managed.

    also, library's kick ass.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:17PM (#46125925)

    I can't believe this. We've been subjected to the Slashdot beta site against our will now for probably a month, if not longer. The hatred for it is unanimous.

    EVERYBODY WHO HAS HAD TO USE THE BETA HATES IT!

    Why can't those running Slashdot see this?

    I see comments expressing EXTREME HATRED for the Slashdot beta in the discussion of nearly every story I read here.

    NOBODY LIKES THE BETA SITE BECAUSE IT IS TOTAL SHIT! THIS HAS BEEN EXPRESSED TIME AND TIME AND TIME AGAIN!

    Please, this failed beta project needs to be canned. Put an end to this total stupidity now. The beta site is a failure in ever respect, and it cannot be saved.

    This surreal drawn-out failure is absurd. How long do the users here have to point out how completely awful this beta site inherently is? How long until somebody at Slashdot clues in about how everybody absolutely hates the beta site?

  • by allaunjsiIverfox2 (3506701) on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:25PM (#46125957)

    That, to me, is a fair compromise.

    There can be no compromise; the TSA must be destroyed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:30PM (#46125979)

    I don't know what's the worst part of your anecdote. How oblivious you seem to be at your privileged status and why that is a Bad Thing for the rights of all to be considered equal under the law, or how easy it would seem to be to join those ranks. One faked up official looking ID and maybe I could be treated like a free citizen like you.
    Oh and using repeated exposure to relax the vigil of the guards is an old ninja trick, get a job as feeble sweeper of courtyards or emptier of chamber-pots until the guards know you, then strike your target. The guys who go easy on you because they know you are failing in their jobs. (no surprise there. Their jobs were failures from the beginning)

    Then there is the servile response of the TSA agent and what it says about his mindset. He's trained and required to do things he KNOWS are useless, annoying and almost certainly infringing on the civil and constitutional rights of the citizens he searches. He's trained to say that everyone is subject to this, no exceptions, but he appears to believe that irritating a member of the bureaucracy may result in retribution in some form. A civil servant, in one of the crappiest jobs there is to be had in government service, was afraid of you and what you might choose to do if delayed. Do you really think that cringing, on the part of any civil servant, but security people especially is a good thing?

    The moral of your story seems to be that the security theatre we all complain about is clearly something to be inflicted on the peasant masses, not members of the elite like yourself. You get a free pass on the bullshit the rest of us are being forced to endure and you attribute that to a few agents having their heads on straight. You are a functionary of what has become the ruling structure, you are getting special treatment as a result and you think that means the system works. You're an apparatchik and don't even know it....

  • by dmbasso (1052166) on Friday January 31, 2014 @11:38PM (#46126007)

    now, as how US politicians *use* that construct...well that really *is* off-topic.

    As off-topic as health care, isn't it?

  • by Connie_Lingus (317691) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @12:05AM (#46126143) Homepage

    uhhh..just FYI i wouldn't give a damn about your meaningless partisan politics...i'm so over that crap i can't stand the words "republican" and "democrat" anymore.

    i'm talking about EXACTLY what the FTA's author is really saying behind his rant...which is the TSA ( which i believe was created under Bush BTW ) is a fucking joke, and the people in charge ( US government bureaucrats ) of the ideas and implementation of it are idjits.

    how could anyone think that the two programs, run by basically the same set of bureaucrats, won't eventually share the same basic outcomes?

  • by DexterIsADog (2954149) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @12:06AM (#46126147)

    well it comforting to know that the same government that managed this program is now moving on to something as *truly* important as our and our childrens healthcare.

    right?

    Exactly. Only, it's not. The ACA is to ensure more people have health *insurance*.

    I'm curious why you felt the need to break out "our childrens (sic) healthcare", as if one might assume that their (again, insurance, not healthcare) was separate from ours. Just for the emotional weight?

  • by Connie_Lingus (317691) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @12:16AM (#46126183) Homepage

    that's a good question.

    i mentioned it because i personally think that it's going to take years before the inevitably negative effects of the ACA really get shot thru the system, thus affecting our children in a much greater way then we (im 50) will ever feel.

    just like the inevitably negative effect that the $17trillion dollar debt that we are burdening our children with will eventually cause some sort of ugly corrective event.

  • by DexterIsADog (2954149) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @12:17AM (#46126189)

    IN America, our homeless are richer sleeping in the water conduit tunnels below Las Vegas than the middle class of India and China who have beds and warm meals. How? Because in America we have choice.

    This statement is absurd. You seem to be saying that homeless in the U.S. are richer because they can, what, choose to starve on the streets? Are you really speaking for people to claim that they are better off without beds and warm meals because they have some theoretical "choice"? I imagine a majority of them would disagree.

    The other way this is absurd is to lump two very different countries together. You do know that India is a democracy, yes? In fact, the most populous democracy on the planet.

    The *third* absurdity is your bald statement that the U.S. maintains armed forces to "get into wars to scare the ever loving hell out of every other nation". I think most politicians in both parties would facepalm over that assertion. I defy you to find any description of U.S. foreign policy by anyone with authority over it that describes the ENGAGEMENT in wars as a deterrent to other countries' aggression.

  • by Zynder (2773551) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @12:22AM (#46126205)
    Because you just used the excuse "We've always done it this way so it's ok"?
  • Amazing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Saturday February 01, 2014 @12:50AM (#46126309)

    The TSA must be a "different" kind of organization than that which I work for, the United States Air Force. I have written many "letters to the editor" under my real name on many topics that expose my generally Socialist bent and strong anti-authoritarian opinions. Yet, I have never been "admonished", and I recently had my security clearance extended for another 10 years after the standard Security Clearance Anal Probe.

    I think the TSA is a "different" kind of US government agency, one that need to go.

  • by Connie_Lingus (317691) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @01:03AM (#46126351) Homepage

    unfortunately, it is all related my good fellow...although it would be comforting to think it wasn't, so i get where your coming from.

  • by Bartles (1198017) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @01:36AM (#46126467)
    He was responsible for renewing the Patriot Act in 2011. He was responsible for the scanners going into airports. He is responsible for every stupid policy that the TSA has. He is the leader of this country whether he wants to be or not, and he should act like it, grow a pair, and use some of his new affinity for executive action to actually do something that improves our way of life rather than impede it. Bush who?
  • by sumdumass (711423) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @01:53AM (#46126523) Journal

    I'm not sure I would consider a state worker as the state advocating something. I can understand why the state wouldn't cover you unless you were in debt by medical expenses. But if you had no medical bills, then you wouldn't need coverage until you did. The kid has no fault in you being unemployed and unable to provide for him so covering him is a no brain'er.

    Covering you without some extenuating circumstances however might encourage the likelihood of you continuing to need coverage. So I think what the state was actually encouraging was you to get a job and provide for yourself while they assisted the innocent child that followed your into that mess. I guess if you are the type who looks at the glass as half empty all the time, you could find the go into medical debt sentiment in that scenario. The interesting thing is, if you are 16k in debt with no job, you are also bankrupt and could discharge that debt pretty easily.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 01, 2014 @02:08AM (#46126583)

    Do we really want to keep repeating the same mistakes for thousands of years? Because basically, if things stay as they are, that's exactly what will happen.
    I'm just tired of the world being mediocre because of the wishes of a few people at the top, be it my own country Australia with our tremendously stupid Prime Minister, Mr. Abbott, or the Tea Party douchebags who wouldn't just shut the fuck up and deal with the fact that they can't have everything their way. (they're both practically the same thing, right wing extremists who are just re-hashing the same old shitty conservative policy from 30 years ago).
    I mean, Tony Abbott is practically trying to make Trickle Down Economics work here... although you will NEVER hear anybody characterize it as that, personally I think my fellow Australians are too stupid to know what that even means. It would be hilarious if he wasn't so hell bent on achieving it.
    It comes down to this: You can't shit on other human beings and expect to get away with it all the time, sometimes people will get fed up, sometimes people get tired of the arrangements they have. Look what happened in your country 13 years ago, a small faction of Radical Islamists basically got fed up with America, what they did was horrible, I can only imagine the pain and anguish of those people who lost somebody because of that event, but your government did a deal with them many years previous, your country helped them get into power in their region all just to make things difficult for the Soviets, and what was the point? They fucking collapsed under their own weight during the early 90's!
    Ultimately, America is responsible for what happens to America, don't fuck with people if you can't handle the retaliation.
    I mean you guys are so mixed up, you want to all be good righteous people who treat eachother right according to your constitution, yet as soon as someone blows up some buildings you all lose your fucking minds and practically tear the same piece of paper to pieces AND THEN ON TOP OF THAT go to some shithole country that the vast majority of Americans had not even heard of and can't even find on a map and then rain down fire and death upon anybody who even resembles a Taliban supporter, to the point where you have drones killing civilians over there for looking suspicious.
    It's very simple, all humans should be treated the same, with respect and courtesy, but if you fuck other people over, don't expect to get away with it forever. The TSA is something I would definitely class as fucking people over, there's just no justification for touching other people's genitals, I don't care what some paranoid pol or military official says, they all have proven track records of lying to the public at this point, anybody who is still supporting all this security bullshit in it's current form is suspect, mainly because it's been proven time and time again that even with all of this TSA crap, there's still GAPING holes in the security. If the average American can see them, you can bet your ass that the Taliban can.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 01, 2014 @02:19AM (#46126631)

    Its amazing what you can do when you have the world's reserve currency.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @05:36AM (#46127097) Homepage Journal

    Again, I disagree. Today, the internal structuring of the military is being tampered with to accommodate various special interest groups. Those groups begin with women and gays, and continue with Muslims, atheists, and ends God knows where.

    A recent article shows that the Pentagon is reconsidering uniform requirements to permit beards and turbans for Muslims. Now consider that beards have been outlawed by our military for decades, based on "discipline" considerations. No redneck, no Jew, no mountain man has been permitted to display a beard while in uniform. Suddenly - we are courting Muslims, so out of the goodness of our hearts, we are going to allow them to wear beards and turbans.

    A number of highly decorated professionals have been drummed out of service for the crime of failing to wholeheartedly support the gay agenda. The numbers published regarding sexual assaults on women are alarming no matter how you view them - but often enough, accusations of sexual harassment and/or assault are political tools used against good soldiers. It is impossible to even guess at the numbers of such instances, but I know for a fact that it happens. Other times, a female soldier who is busted for drugs or other infractions tries to turn the tables by accusing supervisors and investigators of sexual harassment. Again - it's impossible to even guess at the numbers, but it happens.

    The internal structure is being eroded. We no longer have the military that we had thirty or forty years ago.

    While a liberal or a progressive may feel that to be a "good thing", the fact is, our military is being improperly used to advance a number of political agendas. The effects on efficiency are all bad.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 01, 2014 @07:41AM (#46127433)

    A recent article shows that the Pentagon is reconsidering uniform requirements to permit beards and turbans for Muslims. Now consider that beards have been outlawed by our military for decades, based on "discipline" considerations. No redneck, no Jew, no mountain man has been permitted to display a beard while in uniform. Suddenly - we are courting Muslims, so out of the goodness of our hearts, we are going to allow them to wear beards and turbans.

    I'm willing to listen to the military on issues of the military, but you sound like an armchair general who saw a minor change in the rules that happened recently. Many modern militaries allow facial hair -- Spain, France, Germany, .... (And historically, beards have been very common.) One of the major reasons for prohibiting it was not discipline, but for having a good seal in gas masks -- god, I know, a crazy idea, that military regulations would be set for issues of warfighting, and not whatever crazy idea you thought up.

  • by Anonymice (1400397) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @08:45AM (#46127591)

    How is this modded 4+ Insightful?! It's ignorant, hypocritical bollocks!

    "Women, gays, Muslims & atheists" are no more special interest groups than bible-bashing white males. And how the fuck do you make "accommodations" for atheists? Not force them to sing words of praise to your special interest deity?
    On an organisational level, religion should have no place in military procedures. If you're having to make "accommodations" for people absent of any religion, then there's something horribly wrong with the procedures of your military.
    And how the hell can you complain that atheists DON'T have to follow your religious doctrine, AND at the same time complain that other religious groups get to follow theirs?

    A recent article shows that the Pentagon is reconsidering uniform requirements to permit beards and turbans for Muslims.

    Suddenly - we are courting Muslims...

    Under pressure from Sikhs, the Pentagon has publicly clarified its existing procedures to permit certain practices "as long as the practices do not interfere with military discipline, order or readiness." [washingtonpost.com]
    And not just that, they have to go the through the procedures to request permission for every individual deployment.

    A number of highly decorated professionals have been drummed out of service for the crime of failing to wholeheartedly support the gay agenda.

    So it's OK for people to break with agreed military procedures & speak out against a minority, but it's not for a minority to request to do the same? Go fuck yourself.

    ...often enough, accusations of sexual harassment and/or assault are political tools used against good soldiers. It is impossible to even guess at the numbers of such instances, but I know for a fact that it happens. Other times, a female soldier who is busted for drugs or other infractions tries to turn the tables by accusing supervisors and investigators of sexual harassment. Again - it's impossible to even guess at the numbers, but it happens.

    Given the accuracy of your comments so far, I'll choose to take these self-professed baseless assumptions with a pinch of salt. You don't have enough information to even make a guess, but you "know" it happens? Do you have *anything* to back this up?

    ...the fact is, our military is being improperly used to advance a number of political agendas.

    Something the whole world would probably agree with you on.

    [/RANT]

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @09:12AM (#46127675)

    You mostly have it BECAUSE you spend that fuckton of money on the military.

    Every country so far that considered trading oil for Euros got bombed. Every time Iran starts pondering, we get to hear about their dangerous nuke program.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @10:24AM (#46127915) Homepage

    Those groups begin with women and gays, and continue with Muslims, atheists, and ends God knows where.

    Please explain why women, gay people, Muslims, atheists, etc can't be good military personnel. I know this much: The soldiers I've talked to and seen polled about it overwhelmingly either support or don't care about these kinds of measures. This might have something to do with the fact that when you're in a firefight you care more about whether the rest of your unit are good shots than who they like to kiss or what they think about spirituality.

    Now consider that beards have been outlawed by our military for decades, based on "discipline" considerations. No redneck, no Jew, no mountain man has been permitted to display a beard while in uniform.

    Please explain why wearing a beard displays a lack of discipline or lack of military readiness. I'm really not understanding what the purpose of that kind of rule could possibly be, except some silly holdover from the 1950's that stereotyped bearded men as drunkards and foreigners. During the Civil War, wearing a beard was very common, and it doesn't seem to have had any effect on the skill or bravery or readiness on the troops (or at least not enough that anyone made any mention of it whatsoever in any military documents).

    While a liberal or a progressive may feel that to be a "good thing", the fact is, our military is being improperly used to advance a number of political agendas.

    Well, let me tell you of another time the military was used to "advance a political agenda": Racial integration. In 1948, Harry Truman issued an executive order desegregating the US military. Today, black people are more likely to join the military than white people, in large part because they know that the organization will treat them fairly and give them a good chance of a career. We'd probably lose 5-10% of our military personnel had Truman not done that.

    We no longer have the military that we had thirty or forty years ago.

    No, we don't, and we're at the very least no worse off for it. Running down the list of US military operations between 1974 and 1984 (the "glory days" you seem to be yearning for), the most significant military actions were the evacuation of Vietnam and the invasion of Grenada. Do you really think those were more difficult military operations than the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan?

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @12:52PM (#46128633)

    We have states with more roads than your entire continent. Get some perspective.

  • by hey! (33014) on Saturday February 01, 2014 @04:04PM (#46129749) Homepage Journal

    Sure the Federal government is *involved*, but *how* it is involved surely makes a difference. The Federal Government actually *runs* security at airports. It does not run non-military health care facilities. It doesn't even provide insurance except to its employees and their families and the poor. It's actual participation in health care and health care decisions is quite limited.

    The Federal government involvement in health care, broadly speaking, is limited to the following five areas:

    (1) Mandates individual coverage for US residents.
    (2) Sets minimal standards for what must be covered to meet the mandate.
    (3) Subsidizes low income insurance premiums
    (4) Provides free alternative insurance for households making less than 133% of the poverty line *in participating states*.
    (5) Provides a health care "exchange" on which consumers can shop for insurance *in states that decline to provide this service to their citizens*.

    That's it. Obamacare is a private sector based health care scheme -- essentially the same scheme, in fact, developed by the conservative Heritage Foundation for Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole in 1996. There is no way to ensure the bulk of Americans have routine health care with *less* federal involvement than what is outlined above.

There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman? -- Woody Allen

Working...