Monday, November 22, 2010

My Bit on the TSA

I rarely fly so really the mess with the TSA isn't an issue for me other than the fact that my husband flies monthly, and oh yeah, I'm an American and like to keep an eye on government doings. I've had a couple of bloggers I read tell some pretty ugly stores about trying to go through airport security recently. They aren't the type to talk about these sort of things at all. One is a coupon site and another is a woman who wrote a cookbook. Not political types in the least. This made me pay a little more attention. I'm naturally sceptical when a film maker or radio personality spins a tale that is too dramatic.
Meg McClain was just such a person. She was really the first I heard to go to the media with a horrific story of being mistreated at the airport. She was the one who said her ticket was ripped and she had been handcuffed. It bothered me a lot, but I had that nagging suspicion in the back of my mind that she might be exaggerating for effect. Sure enough, the TSA released the video of her at the airport screening, which is something they never do. It was an attempt to prove their innocence, and in fact it does seem that she was probably not singled out or handcuffed. There are however a few things in this video that give me cause for concern.

There no sound on the video.
(see video here if not viewable on note)
After watching it for a few minutes I stopped looking at Ms.McClain and started noticing the other travelers. There was a lot of gawking at her, which made me sympathetic. No one likes to be on display in a bad situations. Then something else caught my eye. I thought I saw a man go through the body scanner and then get patted down anyway. So, I started watching the body scanner instead of the drama. Along the 5 minute mark there is a woman in a purple sweatshirt that submits to the radiation scanner. She steps on the mat to wait the results and then, in full view of everyone, the female agent pats her down in a manner I would be very uncomfortable with. The woman, much like the other 2 people I saw go through this, was allowed to go on to board her plane so, obviously, there was nothing to be found.
After that, another problem occurred to me. When the woman this video was actually about was first taken aside she disappears off the corner of the video into a screening area. You can only see her hands as she talks. What this tells me is if she had allowed them to go ahead with the planned pat down she would have been off camera. There would be no one monitoring how the search was done or if the agent acted inappropriately during the search. One would assume that there are other cameras in the area, but if there were and didn't show the agents acting improperly, then why wasn't that angle shown instead?
I just wish one person could explain to me why we randomly search people. The TSA has never once to my knowledge stopped a single terrorist with these methods. Also, to my knowledge, there has never been a skinny white girl try to take over a plane in order to commit a terrorist act inside the U.S. Why is profiling wrong in this case? Why are we stripping the rights to be politically correct? Other countries profile, so why is it wrong to do it here? It seems like a giant waste of money and time. The idea that some airports do this to pilots astounds me. If they wanted to crash a plane they wouldn't need to smuggle anything onto the plane because they are the ones doing the flying. Is all common sense lost?
I read an article that was geared towards people of the Muslim religion on how to deal with the new screening. They are saying that you can declined based on religious reasons (good, having people put their hands all over me is against my religion, too). Next , you may request to be moved to a private area that is not in view of all the other people in line. After being moved you request a self pat down. In this you run your own hands over the private areas of your body, after which your hands are tested for explosive residue. I can live with this idea. It sounds fair to me. The question now becomes why isn't this option posted, suggested, and even encouraged?
I've said my peace, and I feel better, but only because I know I will not be flying anywhere with my children while these procedures are in place. I'd like to congratulate the TSA on making our skies safe from suburban housewives and families like ours.
Anyone else worked up about this?

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

yes. whole thing bothers me.