Tag: Airport SecurityView All Tags
Washington, D.C. is rife with scandals over how various branches of the government have been violating people's privacy and security. Whether it's the IRS targeting conservative groups or the Department of Justice monitoring journalists, it appears that federal agencies have been given vast powers to collect information and they're not very good at holding on to that information.
So naturally, Congress has chosen this week to add a provision to the new immigration bill that requires all non-U.S. citizens to be fingerprinted when flying out of the U.S.'s 30 busiest airports.
Because if there's anything that American politicians are good at generating, it's irony.
Sigh.This happened two weeks ago, broke earlier this week, and is now winding its way through the usual blogs and forums run by the usual mix of well-meaning libertarians and conspiracy theory nutjobs.
An Italian woman was making her way through Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport and was standing in the baggage claim area. The airport's bomb-sniffing dog apparently decided that the woman needed to be bitten, so it bit her.
How hard the dog actually bit her has been a subject of open debate. EMS personnel on the scene said it "looked like a scratch." She says that there was bleeding and the bruise afterward was the size of her hand. You can judge for yourself who's telling the truth by looking at the picture here. Try not to be eating food when you look at it though, because it's actually kind of horrific.
Travel Politics / Politics Travel / TSA / Airport Security / Airline Security / Naked Travel / → All Tags
This is without a doubt the least sexy naked travel post that we've ever blogged. John Brennan is a Portlander with what appears to be a libertarian streak. Last April he was going through a TSA checkpoint when officers detected nitrates on his clothing. In order to demonstrate that he was not in fact carrying explosives, Brennan got totally naked. Problem? Solution.
He was of course immediately charged with violating local indecency laws, because seriously, he got really naked (NSFW, obviously). Those charges were promptly slapped down by a judge. We have a Constitution in this country, and that Constitution entitles you to protest against the government in all kinds of interesting ways, and those ways apparently include being naked.
In 2011 TSA was ordered by a judge to follow the law and solicit public comments on full body scanners. They kind of sort of ignored that order. Since that's not a thing that people are allowed to do with court orders, in 2012 the agency was again ordered to solicit comments. Now it's May 2013, and finally TSA has opened up a webpage to get the public's input. So the next time it takes you an hour to get through an airport security line, you can feel better knowing that it's not just security. They're slow at everything.
Anyway, there have already been 3,000 comments about the scanners. You can add your own. They are... oh, let's go with entertaining.
Last March the TSA created a media firestorm by announcing that it was changing its policies and letting passengers carry small knives - along with some sporting equipment - aboard airplanes. The people who routinely scream that TSA should loosen its restrictions became very quiet for some reason. Instead all the people who support stringent TSA restrictions began screaming. And they screamed a lot. We used the entire episode as a case study in why we can't have nice things.
Fast forward to yesterday. TSA declared a take back. They're not going to loosen the restrictions until after they hold some hearings. How long those will take is unknown. And to think: some people actually believe that TSA is incompetently stumbling from one short-sighted policy to another without any sense of overall strategy.
We’ll try not to take a side in this debate, but we did want to chime in to remind you that your pocket knife can go on vacation again, beginning this week. April 25 is the big day in which the TSA loosens up some of their rules, and small pocket knives are no longer a big deal. You're again welcome to carry them onboard the plane with you, rather than stick them in your checked bag. The metal detector may beep, but upon closer examination you’ll be waived right through the security line.
We’ve mentioned this a couple times before, but it sounds like the lifting of the rule is still happening, despite complaints and comments from a number of different groups.
Airport Security / Airline Security / TSA / Travel News / JFK / → All Tags
The Sydney Morning Herald wrote yesterday that "the dreaded [TSA]... has gained a reputation as part authoritarian goon squad and part crime syndicate." We thought was unfair. In the first place, it seems a little bit sweeping to say that "authoritarian goon squad" is part of TSA's official reputation. How many people actually go that far? Like real people.
More importantly, the SMH forgot to include how any description of TSA's actual reputation involves being really, really stupid.
Travel Politics / Politics Travel / TSA / Airport Security / Airline Security / Texas / Texas Travel / → All Tags
As they'll be more than glad to tell you (at length) Texans are a freedom loving people. However sometimes however ardor for personal liberty goes a little farther than what good sense, or political reality, or federal law might advise. This is one of those times.
You'll recall that in March 2011 we openly ridiculed Texas lawmakers for introducing a series of bills that would have criminalized various TSA measures, from invasive pat-downs to full-body scans. We called the entire spectacle a "publicity stunt" and predicted that it would quickly die. Within a few weeks, and for a wide range of reasons, it had indeed died. Then a year later Rep. David Simpson of Longview introduced a bill that would have merely criminalized "inappropriate touching" by TSA. It too, predictably, failed to become a real thing.
Apparently now it's back. Rep. Simpson seems to believe that travel politics bloggers don't have enough easy content, and he's eager to help. God bless Rep. Simpson. The rest of you should be following his example and hooking us up, rather than scoffing and rolling your eyes like you're obviously doing right now.
Remember a few years ago when TSA officials moved to unionize their workers, and then we expressed concerns to the effect that unions might protect deadbeat screeners, then TSA said of course that wouldn't be allowed to happen, then we debunked their logic, then TSA unionized anyway? And then remember that other time a little later, when 36 TSA workers got fired from Honolulu International Airport because they failed to scan bags for explosives, and then unions rushed in to protect them?
You'll be happy to know that one of those employees - a manager named Raymond Ware - was reinstated after a lengthy challenge. He's getting his job back plus back pay.
This can't still be going on. There's no way this is still going on, right? There can't still be debates taking place over whether sequestrations will crush airline securitywith the sides being yes and no and why the hell is this even a thingcan there be?
Come on. The latest news involves having the FAA shut down 149 "federal contract" air traffic control towers on April 7. The agency was originally going to shut down 189 towers but was convinced to spare an addition 40 due to of safety considerations (read: the airports were in districts represented by powerful members of Congress or the towers were staffed by government union employees).
Airport Security / Airline Security / Politics Travel / Travel Politics / TSA / Travel News / → All Tags
Lots of TSA news floating around today. There's a sequester impact story from Miami that someone successfully pitched to a local reporter. More lawmakers have piled on in criticizing the agency for lifting its ban on pocketknives. And of course, there's the Marine humiliated in a wheelchair story that everyone's talking about, because outraged outrage is fun to talk about.
But those stories (a) suck and (b) are ones we've discussed to death (for real: recent examples here and here and here). So instead let's talk about how this woman tried to smuggle a sword through Dulles airport security in her cane. The Associated Press says that it's just like a James Bond film, because the Associated Press doesn't know the difference between cane guns and cane swords. But still, it's a sword stashed in a cane that someone tried to get through security in the nation's capital. We're going with it.
Politics Travel / Travel Politics / Airport Security / Washington DC Travel / Washington DC / Travel News / → All Tags
That was a close call. A week ago the administration seemed to be suggesting that White House tours might reopen, which might have been nice for schoolchildren but would have been a disaster for us. Of all the interminable travel news that has come out of the sequestration debate, the administrations's cancellation of White House tours was a delightfully bitchy (read: actually interesting) bright spot.
The tours are scheduled through individual Congressional offices, and so it was the staffers from those offices who had to call back to their districts and explain to little Timmy's mom that his tour was cancelled. Since the White House blames Congress for the entire sequester fiasco, no matter what side you are in the debate, you had to admit that was objectively pretty funny. Losing it would have been tragic. Luckily White House tours are still not happening.