I know this won’t be popular, but all this anti-TSA rhetoric is getting tiring. Yes, on occasion, an agent might do something outside of procedure, and a complaint should be made, they should be investigated and if necessary, disciplined or fired. But 14 million people fly through US airports weekly, and we hear about maybe 1 or 2 supposed abuses every week or so, mostly because they’re the exceptions. And then everyone starts blogging and posting about what happened with only the complaint of the passenger to go on, assuming that there’s no other viewpoint to the story.
Sometimes, with the random selection process for screening, that pointer happens to point to a 6 year old kid or an elderly person in a wheelchair, or, like the latest one everyone’s going on about, a pregnant first grade teacher – who maybe, just maybe, opted out of the electronic screening as many pregnant women do because of concerns about “radiation” (which are completely unfounded as well) and then didn’t want to get searched either (in fact, she admits in her now widely circulated letter that she tried to refuse a pat-down and kept demanding to be allowed to go to her flight without being searched, to which everyone is going “aww, let the lady go, she’s a pregnant schoolteacher” – like anyone in line or in the TSA would have known that – it’s “Monday morning quarterbacking” at its worst). Who knows? But taking her at her word without any other input is just dumb. Security experts the world over have noted the rise in the use of prosthetic pregnancy devices that make a woman appear to be pregnant but hide explosives in terrorist attacks.
I have yet to have a negative experience with an agent, nor see anyone harassing a passenger, nor even know anyone who has been harassed. The only incident I’ve witnessed was a woman who refused to remove her shoes, jacket, or any of her metal jewelry or watch because she didn’t trust that she’d get them back when they passed through the scanner, and then got abusive when a female officer offered to do a pat-down search, in private if she wished. Bluntly, I wouldn’t want her passed through.
Last week TSA agents found 18 concealed firearms, 5 cases of other prohibited items concealed in carryon baggage, and 9 people traveling on false identification papers – all in cases where the people tried to get around the automated scanning process and get on a plane without being searched. That says something to me about the worthwhile nature of the security process, particularly the concealed guns.
Perhaps it’s my having been present in NYC during the 9/11 attacks, dealing with losing friends and colleagues, and living with the aftermath, but for me, flying is a privilege, not a right, and personally I have no problem with extra security measures if it might just save my or someone else’s life.