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TSA has met the enemy the people
Japan Today ^ | 11/22/2010 | Adam Gellor

Posted on 11/21/2010 4:11:05 PM PST by markomalley

How did an agency created to protect the public become the target of so much public scorn?

After nine years of funneling travelers into ever longer lines with orders to have shoes off, sippy cups empty and laptops out for inspection, the most surprising thing about increasingly heated frustration with the U.S. Transportation Security Administration may be that it took so long to boil over.

The agency, a marvel of nearly instant government when it was launched in the fearful months following the 9/11 terror attacks, started out with a strong measure of public goodwill. Americans wanted the assurance of safety when they boarded planes and entrusted the government with the responsibility.

But in episode after episode since then, the TSA has demonstrated a knack for ignoring the basics of customer relations, while struggling with what experts say is an all but impossible task. It must stand as the last line against unknown terror, yet somehow do so without treating everyone from frequent business travelers to the family heading home to visit grandma as a potential terrorist.

The TSA “is not a flier-centered system. It’s a terrorist-centered system and the travelers get caught in it,” said Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University who has tracked the agency’s effectiveness since it’s creation.

That built-in conflict is at the heart of a growing backlash against the TSA for ordering travelers to step before a full-body scanner that sees through their clothing, undergo a potentially invasive pat-down or not fly at all.

“After 9/11 people were scared and when people are scared they’ll do anything for someone who will make them less scared,” said Bruce Schneier, a Minneapolis security technology expert who has long been critical of the TSA. “But ... this is particularly invasive. It’s strip-searching. It’s body groping. As abhorrent goes, this pegs it.”

A traveler in San Diego, John Tyner, has become an Internet hero after resisting both the scan and the pat-down, telling a TSA screener: “If you touch my junk, I’m gonna have you arrested.” That has helped ignite a campaign urging people to refuse such searches on Nov 24, which immediately precedes Thanksgiving and is one of the year’s busiest travel days.

The outcry, though, “is symptomatic of a bigger issue,” said Geoff Freeman, executive vice president of the U.S. Travel Association, an industry group that says it has received nearly 1,000 calls and e-mails from consumers about the new policy in the last week.

“It’s almost as if it’s a tipping point,” Freeman said. “What we’ve heard from travelers time and again is that there must be a better way.”

Indeed, TSA has a history of stirring public irritation. There was the time in 2004 when Sen Ted Kennedy complained after being stopped five times while trying to board planes because a name similar to his appeared on the agency’s no-fly list. And the time in 2006 when a Maine woman went public with her tale of being ordered by a TSA agent to dump the gel packs she was using to cool bags of breast milk. And the time in 2007, when a Washington, DC woman charged that another TSA agent threatened to have her arrested for spilling water out of her child’s sippy cup.

TSA denied the last, releasing security camera footage to try and prove its point. But that did little to offset the agency’s longtime struggle to explain itself and win traveler cooperation.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. After Congress approved creation of the agency in late 2001, the TSA grew quickly from just 13 employees in January 2002 to 65,000 a year later. In the first year, agency workers confiscated more than 4.8 million firearms, knives and other prohibited items, according to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

But even as the new agency mushroomed, officials at the top, pressured by airlines worried that tighter security would discourage people from flying, looked to the business world for lessons on systems, efficiency and service.

TSA set up “go teams” pairing government employees with executives from companies including Marriott International Inc., The Walt Disney Co., and Intel Corp., to figure out how to move lines of people through checkpoints efficiently and how to deal with angry travelers.

But the agency was working under what Freeman calls “an unachievable mandate.” Congress demanded an agency that eliminated risk. But the risks are always changing, as terrorists devise new methods and government parries. That has led to an agency that is always in crisis mode, constantly adding new policies designed to respond to the last terror plot.

President Barack Obama says he has pushed the TSA to make sure that it is always reviewing screening processes with actual people in mind. “You have to constantly refine and measure whether what we’re doing is the only way to assure the American people’s safety,” Obama said Saturday. “And you also have to think through, are there ways of doing it that are less intrusive.”

TSA operates on the belief that a key to foiling terrorists is to keep them guessing, agency watchers say. But it has never really explained that to a flying public that sees never-ending changes in policies covering carry-on liquids, shoes, and printer cartridges as maddening and pointless inconsistency.

“If you ask what its procedures are, how you screen people, it’s ‘I can’t tell you that because if the bad guys find out they’ll be able to work around the system,’” said Christopher Elliott, an Orlando, Fla-based consumer advocate specializing in travel. “That’s why a lot of what they’ve done has not really gone over well with air travelers. They perceive it as being heavy-handed and often the screeners come across as being very authoritarian.”

Over time, TSA has settled into a pattern of issuing directives with little explanation and expecting they be followed. But increasingly fed-up travelers don’t understand the agency’s sense of urgency and aren’t buying it.

“I don’t think the law enforcement approach is going to work with the American public. You’ve got to explain yourself and reassure people. And they’re not doing it,” Light said.

That goes beyond public relations, experts say. As more and more layers are added to air travel security efforts, it creates difficult and potentially unpopular choices. But the TSA has been unwilling to openly discuss how it arrives at policies or to justify the trade-offs, highlighted by its insistence over the need for the scanners.

“They’re very expensive and what they (TSA officials) should be able to do is answer if it does reduce the risk, how much does it reduce the risk and is it worth it?” said John Mueller, a professor of political science at Ohio State, who has researched the way society reacts to terrorism.

The pushback against the body scanners and pat-downs shows the agency at its worst, Elliott said, issuing a policy that wasn’t properly vetted or explained, but determined to defend it.

Growing dissatisfaction with TSA has even led some airports to consider replacing the agency with private screeners. Such a change is allowed by law, but contractor must follow all the security procedures mandated by the TSA, including body scans and pat-downs.

But frustration with the TSA was building even before the latest furor. In a December 2007 Associated Press-Ipsos poll asking Americans to rank government agencies, it was as unpopular as the Internal Revenue Service. Even so, a poll earlier this month by CBS News found 81% of Americans support the TSA’s use of full-body scanners at airports. The poll, conducted Nov 7-10, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Elliott said that better communication would probably win the TSA more cooperation. But the pushback suggests that a growing number of consumers, particularly frequent travelers, are questioning the premise at the heart of the agency’s existence.

“I think at some point Americans said to themselves, maybe in their collective subconscious…there’s a line here where it’s not just worth it anymore,” he said. “There’s a growing sense that that line has been crossed.”


TOPICS: Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: tsa; tsapervs
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1 posted on 11/21/2010 4:11:07 PM PST by markomalley
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To: markomalley

The TSA needs to be disbanded, John Pistole needs to be indicted, and the security of the airports needs to be privatized NOW!!!


2 posted on 11/21/2010 4:13:46 PM PST by realcleanguy
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To: markomalley

Until the outrageous abuses of the TSA come to a stop, my wife and I will use an alternate means of travel other than a commercial airline such as American Airlines, Southwest, United and all the others.

I can’t stop the TSA’a abuse, but I can choose to avoid it. If that means that the airlines have lost a customer, then maybe they should step up to the plate on behalf of their customers who don’t wish to be treated as though they are criminals, while Muslims get a pass.


3 posted on 11/21/2010 4:14:09 PM PST by Outland (Ping me when the revolution starts. Anything less won't fix this mess.)
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To: markomalley

I’ve never seen it reported that a TSA agent “caugt” a terrorist. They’ve taken people’s aftershave and women’s breast milk but no terrorist types have ever been arrested. If they had it would have been reported so as to justify the TSA’s existance.


4 posted on 11/21/2010 4:19:57 PM PST by Terry Mross
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To: Outland

Talk of ridiculous.
The system was created because of and for muslims, not to impair Americans. Here? Obama has gone over the top by granting his brethren passes totally defeating all purpose and intent of the “system” while burdening America with the inconvenience and cost.


5 posted on 11/21/2010 4:20:11 PM PST by himno hero
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To: markomalley

Plainly some well-heeled organization with an interest in people traveling by air (the Airline Pilots Association, maybe the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on behalf of business travelers, whatever trade groups represent tourism) needs to launch (or back) a 4th Amendment law suit, asserting that the new procedures constitute an unreasonable search without probable cause—which they do, the question being whether we can find a court to agree.


6 posted on 11/21/2010 4:20:11 PM PST by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: realcleanguy

I know it’s juvenile but I can’t help snicker every time I see the head of TSA is named Pistole ;-)


7 posted on 11/21/2010 4:20:46 PM PST by bigbob
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To: markomalley

8 posted on 11/21/2010 4:21:37 PM PST by lightman (Adjutorium nostrum (+) in nomine Domini)
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To: markomalley

I would bet my next paycheck that the 80% of people who support the scanners / groping (assuming it is accurate) are the 80% of the public who have not flown recently. Among those of us who have to fly frequently for a living, 5% support would be more realistic....


9 posted on 11/21/2010 4:23:10 PM PST by lump in the melting pot (Communism - a social experiment which, for moral reasons, should not be performed on human beings)
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To: realcleanguy
The TSA needs to be disbanded,

But what to do with all the Big Government employees?

OH! WAIT! They can be the ObamaCare screeners.

10 posted on 11/21/2010 4:25:19 PM PST by Balding_Eagle (Overproduction, one of the top 5 worries of the American Farmer for decades.)
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To: markomalley

SUCCESS


11 posted on 11/21/2010 4:28:00 PM PST by FrankR (Don't let the bastards wear you down!)
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To: bigbob
I know it’s juvenile but I can’t help snicker every time I see the head of TSA is named Pistole ;-)

Almost as good as the head of the NAACP being named Jealous.

12 posted on 11/21/2010 4:31:05 PM PST by buccaneer81 (ECOMCON)
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To: markomalley
This is a whiny puff piece.

“the TSA has demonstrated a knack for ignoring the basics of customer relations, while struggling with what experts say is an all but impossible task. It must stand as the last line against unknown terror..”

“Even so, a poll earlier this month by CBS News found 81% of Americans support the TSA’s use of full-body scanners at airports.”

Go on any website, even the liberal ones, and read the fury. This is crap disguised as criticism.

13 posted on 11/21/2010 4:35:57 PM PST by Luke21
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If memory serves, one of the major goals of terrorism is to provoke an over-response from government, causing the people to oppose and fight them. Thereby doing the terrorist’s job for them.


14 posted on 11/21/2010 4:39:49 PM PST by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: markomalley

“it took so long to boil over.”

The “security measures” now are much more abusive than they were when I last flew in 2004. I gave up flying after several trips through Dulles, where I saw:

* An old white male being yelled at by 3 different TSA idiots because he wasn’t removing his shoes, belt, and pocket contents fast enough.

* A young white woman pulled off to the side for a special check.

* A TSA agent screaming at well-behaved passengers to move back simply because he couldn’t see the “Don’t Go Beyond This Line” on the floor.

* And finally, Muslim women (wearing kerchiefs) working to control the security line!


15 posted on 11/21/2010 4:39:49 PM PST by LibFreeOrDie (Obama promised a gold mine, but will give us the shaft.)
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To: markomalley

I don’t think this ever gets to the heart of the problem. The TSA agents here in Atlanta tend to be low-skill, low-education individuals whose only real job satisfaction derives from lording it over the public. Because of the (mis)configuration of the ATL airport, all international passengers (even those ending their journeys here) have to go through TSA screening on arrival, so people are already mad as they leave customs, and the agents make it worse.

Last year I came back from Rome on the 4th of July. The agents on duty were furious that they had to work on the holiday, and they took out their frustration on the public, screaming at old women and children for moving too slow and threatening people with duty-free purchases they were trying to bring home. It struck me at the time that the 4th would be perfect for another revolution. I just wish this latest mess had come to light before November 2nd.


16 posted on 11/21/2010 4:47:03 PM PST by madprof98 ("moritur et ridet" - salvianus)
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To: Terry Mross
I’ve never seen it reported that a TSA agent “caugt” a terrorist.

Excellent point. I can't remember any reporter even asking a TSA official: "How many terrorists has TSA caught?"

17 posted on 11/21/2010 4:47:40 PM PST by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: markomalley
The Israelis PROFILE passengers for careful search.

They don't irradiate passengers with George Soros owned cancer causing X-ray machines. The Israelis do not manually rape and degrade air travelers.

They PROFILE people like this:


18 posted on 11/21/2010 4:52:09 PM PST by FormerACLUmember (Character is defined by how we treat those who society says have no value.)
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To: LibFreeOrDie

Freedom isn’t free. Look what you liberal masses have given us? I hope you feel so much better now—so much safer? How about getting rid of this joke of a TSA and have people fly nude or in bikinis and speedos. Maybe sell blinder too so you don’t look at people.


19 posted on 11/21/2010 4:54:12 PM PST by Forward the Light Brigade (Into the Jaws of H*ll)
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To: markomalley

Damn straight a line has been crossed!


20 posted on 11/21/2010 4:57:16 PM PST by AFreeBird
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To: D-fendr

Yep. Make the government look impotent and ineffective.

Seems the terrorists have succeeded and never need to have any more airplane attacks.


21 posted on 11/21/2010 4:59:13 PM PST by Eagle Eye (A blind clock finds a nut at least twice a day.)
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To: markomalley
Even so, a poll earlier this month by CBS News found 81% of Americans support the TSA’s use of full-body scanners at airports.

This poll is worthless. Relatively few Americans have any idea what the full-body scanner is or what it does - the TSA and the government certainly didn't consult Americans before installing these things.
22 posted on 11/21/2010 5:01:02 PM PST by AnotherUnixGeek
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To: realcleanguy

That would be good.


23 posted on 11/21/2010 5:02:22 PM PST by AmericanInTokyo ("Oh well then, I JUST WON'T FLY ANYMORE"...(Don't kid yourself. Airports are just their beginning.))
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To: himno hero
Talk about keeping the American TEA PARTY MOVEMENT ALIVE PAST THE MIDTERMS AND INTO THE NEW CONGRESS (so that it does not run out of steam as the Obama-ites hope it will), this ISSUE would propell it for the next three months at least!

I know folks are tired and all electioneered out and ready for their turkey and vacations, but I will tell you this, I cannot imagine a better issue that would bring out a larger crowd in multiple areas of the USA under the Tea Party Banner in the November-January period, than this whole TSA/Airport Groping situation.


24 posted on 11/21/2010 5:05:12 PM PST by AmericanInTokyo ("Oh well then, I JUST WON'T FLY ANYMORE"...(Don't kid yourself. Airports are just their beginning.))
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To: markomalley

First, they came for those who carry nail clippers, but I didn’t speak up because I don’t carry nail clippers.

Then they came for the people who carry on liquids, but I didn’t speak up for them because I check my luggage.

Then they made everyone take off their shoes, but I didn’t speak up because it was a minor (d*mned) inconvenience.

Then they demanded to take pictures of or feel my penis, but there was no one left to speak up for me ...


25 posted on 11/21/2010 5:08:06 PM PST by aMorePerfectUnion
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To: markomalley
In the first year, agency workers confiscated more than 4.8 million firearms, knives and other prohibited items, according to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Yea, my P38 was one of the "prohibited items" they confiscated in their first year ... after over a million miles of air travel in 10 years on my key chain.

The TSA is a f&^%$#g joke, and has been since day one.


26 posted on 11/21/2010 5:26:18 PM PST by spodefly (This is my tag line. There are many like it, but this one is mine.)
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To: Balding_Eagle

Put their sorry asses on the border with an m-4.Nothing but teat sucking bottom feeders.


27 posted on 11/21/2010 5:29:19 PM PST by HANG THE EXPENSE (Life is tough.It's tougher when you're stupid.)
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To: markomalley

Funny Stuff

The TSA: It’s Our Business To Touch Yours (SNL Video)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joIxWcFO3bY


28 posted on 11/21/2010 5:31:37 PM PST by NavyCanDo
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To: markomalley

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

Benjamin Franklin


29 posted on 11/21/2010 5:34:52 PM PST by NavyCanDo
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To: markomalley

Perfect security is unachievable, and incompatible with liberty. We the people need to accept the fact that if the terrorist want to knock planes out of the sky, they are going to succeed sometimes, even if the most totalitarian measures are taken. The TSA and the government need to recognize that also, and retreat from these unAmerican and invasive measures.


30 posted on 11/21/2010 5:44:26 PM PST by GenXteacher (He that hath no stomach for this fight, let him depart!)
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To: markomalley

Eventually they will realize that the only safety is in not letting anyone get on the airplanes and the procedure will change accordingly.


31 posted on 11/21/2010 6:00:23 PM PST by ThanhPhero (Khach hanh huong den La Vang)
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To: markomalley

Why the sudden change. My flying experience a year ago was a walk through a metal detector and putting my shoes and purse in a tray. Lines were not too long. This year, I will take Greyhound rather than fly. I took a four hour Greyhound trip Pittsburgh to Columbus and it was doable.


32 posted on 11/21/2010 6:36:38 PM PST by Ciexyz
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To: markomalley
“It’s almost as if it’s a tipping point,” Freeman said. “What we’ve heard from travelers time and again is that there must be a better way.”

Challenge the dominant paradigm. Airlines are private businesses. They sell tickets to everyone, including terrorists. The terrorists use airlines assets to commit acts of terror. BLAME THE AIRLINES FOR SELLING TICKETS TO TERRORISTS! The simple solution is to hold airlines accountable for any terrorist activities on their airlines. The airlines have shifted the cost of searching for terrorists to the tax payer. They then sell tickets to terrorists and let the government and the citizens worry about catching the ticket holders. If this isn't crazy, I don't know what is. Make the airlines CERTIFY that all passengers are safe. Then, the airlines would set up private screening systems. The government would be out of the picture and the airlines could use whatever method is appropriate to screen each passenger to whom it sells tickets. Nobody gets on a plane until the airline has verified the identity of each passenger and whatever is being carried. Then, frequent fliers could get a pass and infrequent fliers can get fondled. WHERE THE HELL IS THE TORT LOBBY ON THIS ONE?????

33 posted on 11/21/2010 6:37:04 PM PST by April Lexington (Study the Constitution so you know what they are taking away!)
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To: markomalley

This needs to be said. I as a female am fearful of an insensitive stranger’s hands in latex coming anywhere need my sensitive body parts. Did those gloves get pushed down someone else’s pants first. How unhygienic. YUCK!!!


34 posted on 11/21/2010 6:41:56 PM PST by Ciexyz
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To: April Lexington; markomalley
BLAME THE AIRLINES FOR SELLING TICKETS TO TERRORISTS! The simple solution is to hold airlines accountable for any terrorist activities on their airlines. The airlines have shifted the cost of searching for terrorists to the tax payer. They then sell tickets to terrorists and let the government and the citizens worry about catching the ticket holders. If this isn't crazy, I don't know what is. Make the airlines CERTIFY that all passengers are safe.

Brilliant idea. Even the restaurants are still allowed to display signs reading, "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone."

35 posted on 11/21/2010 6:44:41 PM PST by thecodont
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To: ThanhPhero

All the threats are from outside the US coming in. The christmas bomber, the shoe bomber, underware bomber, printer cartridge bombs. So why are the checks being done on me from charleston to atlanta? Or anywhere inside the US?
Maybe they know threats coming from the open southern border?
CLOSE THE SOUTHERN BORDER !!! PROFILE !!! DELETE THE TSA !!
Where’s the FENCE? It’s paid for.!


36 posted on 11/21/2010 6:47:49 PM PST by bullfeather (sub pusher in sc)
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To: markomalley
Congress demanded an agency that eliminated risk.

Congress, the puppet of corporate airlines could have demanded that airlines STOP selling tickets to terrorists. But, nope. They decided to create a new zillion dollar Federal program with an army of new federal workers. Unionized and entitled to Federal retirement benefits. Thousands more Democratic votes in big urban communities... The cost of security was shifted to the tax paying idiots of America, the airlines get free security screening and the govt gets bigger.

37 posted on 11/21/2010 6:49:59 PM PST by April Lexington (Study the Constitution so you know what they are taking away!)
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To: spodefly
Yea, my P38 was one of the "prohibited items" they confiscated in their first year ... after over a million miles of air travel in 10 years on my key chain.

I like the P38's old world German craftsmanship.

.

38 posted on 11/21/2010 6:54:44 PM PST by Cobra64
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To: FormerACLUmember
Some one with the skills should take that poster and do something similar to the "Republican Women vs Democrat Women" poster.

Only these would be "Terrorists vs Not Terrorists". Maybe the TSA could use it as a training aid.

39 posted on 11/21/2010 7:22:35 PM PST by sjmjax
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To: thecodont
Just imagine a private business running around schoolyards selling loaded handguns to 10 year olds. The cops would be all over that business in a heartbeat. Well, now... imagine an airlines running around selling commercial airlines tickets to terrorists! Where are the cops?
40 posted on 11/21/2010 7:23:26 PM PST by April Lexington (Study the Constitution so you know what they are taking away!)
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To: Outland
I can’t stop the TSA’a abuse, but I can choose to avoid it. If that means that the airlines have lost a customer, then maybe they should step up to the plate on behalf of their customers who don’t wish to be treated as though they are criminals, while Muslims get a pass.

With all due respect, the airlines are perfectly happy to sell tickets to ANY terrorist on the planet to sweeten the ol' income statement and let the tax payers and the traveling public pick up the cost of screening. Where in heck do airlines get off selling tickets to terrorists?

41 posted on 11/21/2010 7:27:25 PM PST by April Lexington (Study the Constitution so you know what they are taking away!)
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To: markomalley

"You let one ant stand up to us, then they all might stand up! Those puny little ants outnumber us a hundred to one and if they ever figure that out there goes our way of life! It's not about food, it's about keeping those ants in line."

42 posted on 11/21/2010 7:32:29 PM PST by Flag_This (Real presidents don't bow.)
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To: aMorePerfectUnion

I can’t help shake the feeling that this is all a set-up. It is so outrageous that I suspect the “consensus” of the people will simply be the system originally intended by the planners (Delphi technique).


43 posted on 11/21/2010 7:38:30 PM PST by Ezekiel (The Obama-nation began with the Inauguration of Desolation.)
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To: markomalley

Do you think some governments will issue “Travel Advisories” against the US because of the intrusive pat downs?


44 posted on 11/21/2010 10:22:50 PM PST by Thunder90 (Fighting for truth and the American way... http://citizensfortruthandtheamericanway.blogspot.com/)
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To: markomalley

I haven’t flown in 15 years and was wondering: what if thousands of people purchased fully refundable plane tickets and canceled at the last minute (whatever that may be). And did this over and over again. If this has any merit, the airlines would really feel the pain and not the TSA, but it’s all I can think of at this time.


45 posted on 11/21/2010 10:35:32 PM PST by scripter ("You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body." - C.S. Lewis)
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To: markomalley

The last time I flew in February 09 and several times before, the TSA agents seemed so disinterested in their job. I showed my ID and boarding pass and the agent barley looked at me before the scribbled on it and sent me on my way.

If the TSA was actually making travel more secure using these new methods, that would be different. However, all they are doing is giving the illusion of security.


46 posted on 11/21/2010 10:46:56 PM PST by matt04
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To: markomalley

47 posted on 11/21/2010 11:48:02 PM PST by M. Espinola (Freedom is never "free")
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To: madprof98
I can relate to your post. I had to travel through there last June. I had a nice bottle of wine I bought at the Duty-Free shop overseas, and they decided that I shouldn't/couldn't have it. They got real mad when I cracked the bottle on the floor before throwing it out.

ATL seems to think it is the "You can't be habbin' dat" airport.

48 posted on 11/22/2010 12:40:36 AM PST by Sarajevo (You're jealous because the voices only talk to me.)
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To: scripter
I haven’t flown in 15 years and was wondering: what if thousands of people purchased fully refundable plane tickets and canceled at the last minute

I haven't seen a "fully refundable" ticket in years. There always seems to be a penalty involved in cancellations.

49 posted on 11/22/2010 12:49:59 AM PST by Sarajevo (You're jealous because the voices only talk to me.)
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To: NavyCanDo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7AWw7t5zj0


50 posted on 11/22/2010 1:34:03 AM PST by Sir Francis Dashwood (Arjuna, why have you have dropped your bow???)
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