I could have ripped up these counterfeit boarding passes in the privacy of a toilet stall, but I chose not to, partly because this was the renowned Senator Larry Craig Memorial Wide-Stance Bathroom, and since the commencement of the Global War on Terror this particular bathroom has been patrolled by security officials trying to protect it from gay sex, and partly because I wanted to see whether my fellow passengers would report me to the TSA for acting suspiciously in a public bathroom. No one did, thus thwarting, yet again, my plans to get arrested, or at least be the recipient of a thorough sweating by the FBI, for dubious behavior in a large American airport. Suspicious that the measures put in place after the attacks of September 11 to prevent further such attacks are almost entirely for show—security theater is the term of art—I have for some time now been testing, in modest ways, their effectiveness. Because the TSA’s security regimen seems to be mainly thing-based—most of its 44,500 airport officers are assigned to truffle through carry-on bags for things like guns, bombs, three-ounce tubes of anthrax, Crest toothpaste, nail clippers, Snapple, and so on—I focused my efforts on bringing bad things through security in many different airports, primarily my home airport, Washington’s Reagan National, the one situated approximately 17 feet from the Pentagon, but also in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago, and at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (which is where I came closest to arousing at least a modest level of suspicion, receiving a symbolic pat-down—all frisks that avoid the sensitive regions are by definition symbolic—and one question about the presence of a Leatherman Multi-Tool in my pocket; said Leatherman was confiscated and is now, I hope, living with the loving family of a TSA employee). And because I have a fair amount of experience reporting on terrorists, and because terrorist groups produce large quantities of branded knickknacks, I’ve amassed an inspiring collection of al-Qaeda T-shirts, Islamic Jihad flags, Hezbollah videotapes, and inflatable Yasir Arafat dolls (really). All these things I’ve carried with me through airports across the country. I’ve also carried, at various times: pocketknives, matches from hotels in Beirut and Peshawar, dust masks, lengths of rope, cigarette lighters, nail clippers, eight-ounce tubes of toothpaste (in my front pocket), bottles of Fiji Water (which is foreign), and, of course, box cutters. I was selected for secondary screening four times—out of dozens of passages through security checkpoints—during this extended experiment. At one screening, I was relieved of a pair of nail clippers; during another, a can of shaving cream.
This paragraph is from Jeffrey Goldberg’s Atlantic Monthly article, The Things He Carried.
I have been hammering the TSA for the last couple of days but my purpose is to get you, my kind readers, to become aware of the trampling of your rights. I want you to complain.
One of the things the TSA said in their defense was that out of the millions of passengers only 110,000 had complained. Those numbers were ineffective in persuading me there wasn’t much of a problem. However, think of the people commenting on these things for the various round the clock news networks and you see the problem. Beltway pundits love this kind of drama. They find these kinds of arguments persuasive. They’d suggest each boarding passenger be seeded with radioactive tracers if it could make them sound more ominous in their warnings against terrorism.
Complain! Raise hell!
Annoy people. Anger them. Be unreasonable.
Surely being nude scanned by a heavy magnetic pulse machine and then possibly groped ought to get you at least unhappy?
Don’t let people do this stuff to you. Don’t let anybody do this to you. This is supposed to be your government, not somebody else, your government.
If they want to do these things, they need to justify them. I want to see some numbers. How many terrorists have been apprehended (zero thus far) during a search? How many people have been invasively searched while they weren’t catching any terrorists?
They are supposed to make the argument.
Let them make it.