Loose Ends: TSA Admits that its Security is Superfluous


I was otherwise occupied, and didn’t write about this at the time, but nobody I follow did either, so I figure it’s worth a small post:

When TSA let three boxcutters through security at JFK and onto an airplane,

[TSA] Spokeswoman Davis was quick to put the embarrassing incident behind her, assuring the traveling public that the TSA is still ahead of the curve:

There have been a number of additional security layers that have been implemented on aircraft that would prevent someone from causing harm with box cutters.

They include the possible presence of armed federal air marshals, hardened cockpit doors, flight crews trained in self-defense and a more vigilant traveling public who have demonstrated a willingness to intervene.

So here’s the riddle: since security measures have been implemented on aircraft that would prevent someone from causing harm with box cutters, why is TSA looking for and confiscating box cutters?

Every government program has costs: direct costs, indirect costs, and opportunity costs. Looking for small blades takes resources that could be used looking for bombs in luggage, or making our highways safer, or feeding hungry children for chrissake.

I like carrying a knife. I get to use it all the time. If you don’t carry one and aren’t looking for opportunities, you might be surprised how many chances there are to use a knife in a week.

When I still traveled by air (before scope-and-grope) I even carried a small blade discreetly on airplanes. I risked losing it to airport security, but so what? Small price to pay to have something resembling a proper tool near at hand. I’d rather have 150 people with knives on an airplane, one of who was a bad guy, than have one bad guy with a knife and 149 unarmed people.

And guns? While the TSA apologists want to believe that a terrorist with a gun on an airplane could still cause mayhem by “shoot[ing] through the door or the thin walls on either side and still hit[ting] a pilot which would bring down an aircraft,” the chances that someone with a gun could set up a shot to kill the pilot ten feet away through an opaque wall, and then repeat the trick with the copilot, all while surrounded by uncooperative passengers on an airplane, are effectively zero.

The flight crew would be more likely to simultaneously choke to death on their peanuts. If that’s the best the “whatever it takes” quislings can come up with, we might as well let guns on the airplanes as well as knives, and turn all those TSA dollars toward avoiding less-fantastic risks or just toward making the final years of American preeminence as much fun as possible.


8 responses to “Loose Ends: TSA Admits that its Security is Superfluous”

  1. I know this is rather off topic, but I have to say that it pisses me off to no end that my local courthouse security won’t let me carry my $10 swiss army knife through security. IT IS A TOOL, PEOPLE, NOT A WEAPON! Do you know how useful it is in trial to have a staple remover and scissors? (I’m sure you know, Mark.) Not to mention tweezers and a toothpick. We’ve lost all common sense.

  2. The purpose of the TSA has never been truly security. Rather, it’s purpose has been “security theater” — to create the illusion (delusion?) of security for the small percentage of the population that is sufficiently gullible to think that they are safer as a result of the TSA procedures. To make matters worse, now the TSA is firmly entrenched as a government jobs program with its own political constituencies.

    It says much about the state of the American body politic that our leaders are so spineless that they are renewing the Patriot Act and taking no action to terminate the TSA.

    So it goes.

    • Tom, I disagree with you only slightly. The purpose of the TSA is not to create the illusion of security, but to create the illusion of danger from which only the government can protect us.

    • I believe it has a more diabolical purpose.
      It is slave training, accustoming us to government agents violating our personal space. The psychology of this abasement is instrumental in the rise of tyranny; if you’ll let them feel your crotch, you’re thoroughly indoctrinated in your role as livestock.

      • Michael, exactly. It’s a re-enactment of the results of Philip Zimbardo’s Stanford Prison Experiment. And Stanley Milgram’s experiment. I’ve been saying this till I’m blue in the fact, all over the blogosphere, but . . . well, so many sheeple, so little time.

  3. Our security overlords are happy to hype a state of fear. Permanent war, abroad and at home, nicely achieves this. There’s a lot of money to be made by playing on people’s paranoia in the so-called war on terror. The Patriot Act, the TSA, the secret this and classified that of DHS, the increasing reach of the National Security State — all are of a piece. And they all spell further abuse.

    But, hey, look on the bright side: jobs, jobs, jobs — TSA molester, soldier of fortune, or DHS spy — lifetime employment! The only growing sector of the economy is the National Security State.

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