The TSA Follies

With each passing day, airport security becomes even more surreal. It’s becoming increasingly clear to even the infrequent traveler that Homeland Security has become just another government bureaucracy more interested in enforcing its rules without rhyme or reason than in keeping anyone safe. Here are a few bizarre things that happened over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thousands of Americans this holiday season are going to go without Grandmother’s homemade pie, because the Transportation Security Administration has apparently banned pies from aircraft. “In the last two days, we have taken a dozen baked pies,” Rick DeChant, TSA assistant federal security director at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. But the pies didn’t get thrown out like all the other potentially explosive liquids seized at the checkpoint. Instead, the potentially explosive pies were fed to soldiers waiting for connecting flights in the USO lounge.

But the ban on pies appears to be inconsistently applied. Mark Ashley at Upgrade: Travel Better points out that other airports will happily let Grandma carry on her special apple pie she made just for you. “Well, so much for common sense,” he wrote.

And you don’t have to be anywhere near Washington to hear the bureaucrats’ political ass-covering on homeland security. It’s clearly audible at any airport in the country. Over and over and over and over and over again. Which is why people have just stopped paying attention to the ridiculous security alerts. “The problem is not that people are cavalier about terrorism,” writes Washington Post columnist Shankar Vedantam. “The problem is that when a warning is repeated over and over — and then nothing bad happens — the human brain is designed to discount the warning.”

Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them

As well it should. The bureuacrats in Washington have completely overblown the threat of terrorism.

In fact, I think it’s time to take a good hard look at that color-coded homeland security advisory system and find out what those alert levels really mean.

SEVERE: The size of your headache as you finally enter the airport’s “sterile area.” How pissed off you are at how much aspirin costs in the airport.

HIGH: How frustrated you are with the checkpoint screeners themselves, most of whom seem to be mentally retarded, and very few of whom can identify a real security threat.

ELEVATED: What happens to your blood pressure while waiting in line at airport security and watching the person ahead of you get arrested for trying to take a rubber band ball onto the plane.

GUARDED: This advisory level, and the lowest one, will never actually be used, because then politicians would have a much harder time scaring people into abject submission.

LOW: The real risk of terrorists hijacking your plane and killing you.

One thought on “The TSA Follies

  • March 5, 2007 at 6:59 pm
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    TSA would not be so irritating if the whole system was not so ‘reactive’. They seem to lack any foresight into what ‘could’ happen, and only respond to events. With the latest ‘liquid’ restrictions, I now go through security needing 2 extra hands as I am juggling my laptop out of its case, my one quart bag, my shoes and my carry-on. Before all of this I was a 100k flyer, now I drive 90% of the time and fly only when there is no other option.

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