Skip to comments.Mission Creep at the TSA?
Posted on 04/03/2013 6:36:33 AM PDT by Dad was my hero
By Christopher Elliott
From the February/March 2013 issue of National Geographic Traveler
Like it or not, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is an unavoidable presence at American airports, from the full-body scanners and enhanced pat-downs to shoes on the conveyor belt and ziplock bags filled with trial-size toothpaste.
But its becoming almost as difficult to avoid the TSA outside the airport, too. Today, you can be pulled over at a highway checkpoint staffed by TSA agents, courtesy of the agencys VIPR program (thats short for Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response team, and pronounced viper, by the way). Its most high-profile traffic stop happened in Tennessee in 2011a training exercise, officials insisted. This year, TSA administrator John S. Pistole requested funding for 37 teams of roving screeners to the tune of $100 million.
You might encounter a TSA screening area when youre at the train station or the subway. In one memorable 2011 incident, Amtrak passengers disembarking in Savannah, Georgia, were screened before they could leave the station. TSA agents have even been spotted at NFL games and political conventions. According to Government Executive, an extra 55 TSA screeners were on hand to help the Secret Service check delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last summer. Thats a real stretch of the agencys mandate, even for the most security-obsessed traveler.
Is this mission creep? To agency insiders, the answer is: Of course not. TSA is just fulfilling its objectives. TSAs mission is to secure transportation systems, writes Pistole on the TSA website. No qualifiers about aviation security, thanks very much. Defenders of the agency say that it is precisely because of its broad mandate that it has (together with other law enforcement agencies) prevented another 9/11. By some measures, the TSA has scored a clear success, observed the nonpartisan Congressional Quarterly in a recent cover story. No terrorist has staged a successful attack on a flight from a U.S. airport since September 11. One of the most ardent defenders of the TSA is travel guidebook guru Arthur Frommer. Every time I am patted down, I am grateful for security agents who take their jobs seriously, he wrote on his blog. I am conscious of the fact that their zealousness is deterring all sorts of would-be terrorists from attempting to carry weapons onto planes.
Critics say theres no causal relationship between a TSA with a sprawling mandate and the absence of a terrorist attack. Fred Cate, a law professor at Indiana University, says screeners are conducting the law-enforcement equivalent of a clumsy police dragnet. Theyre throwing something at the wall to see if it sticks. He and others are troubled that the random roadside checkpoints and the intermittent security screenings at subway and train stations could become permanent. Groups such as the Electronic Privacy Information Center are taking a lead in advocating limits to what they view as an expansive TSA. The center is suing the federal government on the decision to deploy body scanners and to ensure the right of the public to have its views heard.
The consequences of going too far in either direction could be serious. We have to carefully balance security against privacy; otherwise we risk becoming a show-me-your-papers-please nation with troubling echoes of other closed societies. Governments good and bad have always cited national security, the prevention of terrorism, and the defense of freedom as their excuses for surveillance and control of peoples movements, says Edward Hasbrouck, a privacy advocate who is one of the leading voices against TSA overreach. But we cant defend freedom by adopting measures that prevent us from exercising the rights we profess to believe in.
Has the TSA prevented one or more terrorist attacks? Thats unanswerable. But I think the price has been high. And I fear that the cost could rise, just to make us feel safe when we travel. We need to order up just enough security as is necessaryand no more.
Previous attempts to define and limit the TSA have failed, despite a blistering 2012 congressional report that recommended downsizing and privatizing parts of the TSA, and several bills designed to contain the agencys reach. TSA reform didnt register as an election-year concern, and neither candidate took a meaningful stance on the issue. Obviously, no political party wants to be the first to reexamine the security apparatus created more than a decade ago, and risk the political repercussions if theres another 9/11-style attack.
Fellow travelers, lets call for one sensible step: Revise the TSAs mission statement to limit its activity to air transportation. After all, we have local and state police, highway patrols, Customs and Border Protection, and, if necessary, the National Guard to protect roads, bridges, railways, and the occasional Super Bowl game. Adding a single wordairto its mission would end its controversial VIPR program. One word would put the TSAs enormous budget into perspective, allowing lawmakers to askand answerthe question: How much do we want to spend on aviation security? Im willing to bet it would be significantly less than the $7.4 billion Americans currently pay for the TSA.
Editor at large Christopher Elliott addresses readers travel problems. E-mail your story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
that was sarcasm, tag got dropped.
Yes the government is creepy!
mission creep is a natural phenomenon that goes on in every government agency, industrial department, etc.
Every manager wants to build a kingdom - it’s in their DNA - been there, done that!!
And their overseer is responsibility to put in adequate controls.
Rest easy, America, the TSA is on the job.
For all those who accept the loss of 4th Amendment rights just for the “privilege” to fly, thanks a lot for what you have allowed to happen.
This is why I went from 120+ flights per year to ZERO.
I am completely fed up with the hoops we are forced to jump through every time some scum of the earth does something bad.
A mental defective shoots people, honest citizens lose more of their 2nd Amendment rights which were to never have been infringed. You would be hard pressed to find a more wiggle free phrase in the BOR or Constitution than “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED” but we let them infringe.
6th Century sand monkeys fly airplanes into our buildings, honest citizens 4th Amendment rights are thrown out the window.
Some syphilis infected druggie makes some illegal drugs using cold medicine and we have to show our ID to curb the sniffles (but don’t dare require ID to vote).
Genetically inferior sand monkeys with a totally fake religion communicate over the internet/phones and once again our government violates the 4th Amendment uses programs like Carnivore and others to monitor our communications.
Under the guise of “hate crimes” the government has significantly cut into our 1st Amendment protections and mark my words they WILL ban any speech against mudslimes, SSAD perverts, abortionists, ... etc.
The noose of government is tightening every day with every new piece of legislation and regulation and we allow it to happen.
MAYBE, just MAYBE it is time for us to DEMAND government increase the penalties on CRIMINALS and ENFORCE those penalties and leave honest citizens alone. Start with a ban on Islam as it is a death cult and not a religion. It servers no positive purpose in civilization.
Complete unjustified Federal policing. It _was_ a _well_ established legal fact, that there is _no_ Federal police powers. This power is the states alone.
The only exception is Federal policing of Federal property: Federal Court and other Federal buildings, Federal Parks...
A government gone wild.
Excellent rant! My sentiments exactly and it’s not about public safety, but the building of bureaucratic police empires in this nation of ours. Don’t forget that in the Third Reich the Gestapo, SS, Waffen SS, Wehrmacht, and Abwehr were separate entities of ambition & deeply distrustful of one another.
As for Islam, it has NO upside and Makkah the unholy city of Allah-Satan needs to be nuked into glowing ashes!
I fly occasionally as my kids are scattered and sometimes flying is the only way I can get to visit them because of time and I can’t drive for long periods due to neck injury. But if I could completely give up flying as you did because of the TSA goons I would. On the other hand, I know I would not be cooperative if I was stopped by them for no good reason driving on the road minding my own business. How would you handle it?
While the Too Stupid for Arbys crowd strip searches children, the illegal aliens work the airplanes and wander the airports.
Politely ask to see the search warrant with your name on it. If necessary, ask if you are being arrested. Ask if the agent’s grandmother’s 4th amendment rights have also been violated.
Not hard to imagine we will soon need TSA permission to leave home. . .after all, need a pat-down before you enter the world, just to make sure you aren’t a bomb-carrying terrorist. . .or worse, have more than 3 oz of shampoo on you.
Thanks, I figured if they want to look in the car to ask for a search waarant. If they just ask where am I going, doing, just ask them if I’m being arrested for driving down the road and if not it’s none of their business?
“On the other hand, I know I would not be cooperative if I was stopped by them for no good reason driving on the road minding my own business. How would you handle it?”
I was reporting for Jury Duty at the Erie County building in Buffalo, NY and the doughnut challenged EC Sheriff demanded I place my computer bag on the scanner conveyor and walk through the metal detector. I refused telling him I demanded to see a warrant for such a search.
He said “we have been doing this for years” to which I replied, “well you have been violating the Constitution for years”.
He asked me why I was there and I told him “I was reporting for Jury Duty”.
He then said, AND I QUOTE: “you should just do what I do when I get those notices, just throw them out”
To which I replied “well unlike you, I obey the law”.
I guess I caught him so flat footed he gave up and let me pass without the search.
We must push back every time government tries to exceed its authority otherwise this will only get worse as there will nothing or nobody to stop them.
I can relay a similar push back story about me and a US Senator (that I won) but the issue would be a bit off topic.
“I can relay a similar push back story about me and a US Senator (that I won) but the issue would be a bit off topic.”
I, and many other I am sure, are surious.
Always nice to hear about the ruling class getting swatted down a peg or twelve.
Folks, your flights keep their hands in your crotch
“I can relay a similar push back story about me and a US Senator (that I won) but the issue would be a bit off topic.
I, and many other I am sure, are surious.
Always nice to hear about the ruling class getting swatted down a peg or twelve.”
I walked up to the 2 elevators and there were 2 security guards there blocking the entry (the door was open on only one). One of the guards looked like a black Kojak but as I am no pencil neck I said:
“I suppose you are holding that elevator for someone more important than me?”
He said, and again I quote exactly: “why yes, this elevator is waiting for for a US Senator” (he did not state the name).
As I pushed him out of the way I said “I am a paid guest at this hotel and being a Senator only makes him my servant”.
As I entered the elevator, I heard him say over his radio, “Senator, you need to wait for a minute as the elevator is in use”. I assumed the Senator was outside in his, or should I say, OUR car.
Being in pain makes me even less likely to suffer BS from our servants.
Don’t get me wrong, I am polite to them UNTIL they first cross the line. After that, not so much.
That's $270,270.027 per team.
To cover 2 or 3 brand new vehicles.
Plus salary for each TSA agent.
Plus money for equipment including ammo.
Now, if the head of the 37 teams forgo the new vehicles
and gets used vehicles, then he can save some money.
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