Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Re TSA, WillCAD from FlyerTalk tells it like it is

I wish I knew this person's real name to give him credit for this comment he posted at the chat forum FlyerTalk (FT). In it, he hits every nail on the head in a discussion with another FT member about the TSA. All I know is that he goes by "WillCAD" and says he hails from Charm City. Here's his FT handle: 
Join Date: Nov 2010 
Location: Baltimore, MD USA 
Programs: Southwest Rapid Rewards. Tha... that's about it. 
Posts: 3,066 
And here is his comment in its entirety (thanks to Susan Richart for alerting me to this):
Originally Posted by MelloncView Post
I WISH I HAD THE ANSWER. I'd be like a public policy master of some kind. 
There is an answer... in about 27 parts. Outside audits with consequences for specific individuals who fail. Get rid of the paramilitary trappings (uniforms, badges, "officer" titles, honor guards, etc) and treat TSOs like what they are, clerks. Establish clear, non-secret, totally transparent procedures and rules, take away discretion from the screeners, and introduce a radically shrunken prohibited items list. Cease trumpeting ANY discoveries other than weapons as "big catches" - it's not a big catch if you find drugs when you're supposed to be looking for weapons. Put big, clear nametags on every TSA employee and require them to give their full name to anyone who asks. Post rules about photography being permissible and other passenger rights big and clear in every airport, and especially in every TSA break room. If someone breaks the rules, FIRE THEIR AZZ! Etc, etc, etc. 
You don't need to be a public policy master to understand common sense and plain accountability. 
Originally Posted by MelloncView Post
I hear the Isarelies do a pretty good job but that's adifferent bowl of wax over there since the existential challenges are literally right in front of your face.
Israel's bowl of wax includes no formal Constitution, and there are enough loopholes on the Basic Laws of Human Dignity and Liberty to drive a truck through.
Whether or not Israel does "a pretty good job" with its aviation security depends entirely on your point of view and personal experience. I haven't experienced it directly, but suffice it to say, I've heard opinions on both sides. 
Originally Posted by MelloncView Post
With us, it's only the painful memory that keeps our vigilance. 
No, what's been keeping our vigilance for the last ten years or so has been continual fear-mongering by those in the government and those in private industry who have a vested interest (politically, financially, or both) in keeping our levels of paranoia, suspicion, xenophonia, and panic at a high enough level to achieve carte blanche when it comes to spending money and restricting liberties in the pursuit of some unattainable state of safety and security. 
Originally Posted by MelloncView Post
My short answer is that they really need to broaden the safe traveler or known traveller program. Get people like us (frequent travelers) out of these ridiculous lines and subject the rest of the herd to scrutiny. 
My first thought when I read something like this consists of two words, one of which is not printable on this site, and the other of which is "you!" 
Only frequent travelers have rights? No way, pal. I may be an infrequent traveler, but I'm a full-time human-freakin'-being, and I have the same rights and freedoms as you have. I ain't gonna pay some extortion money to keep the rights and freedoms I have. When it comes to purchased services or special privileges from a private company, I say, Pay more, Get more. But when it comes to Constitutionally-guaranteed rights and freedoms, I say, Millions for Defense* but not one penny for Tribute! 
*In this context, I mean Defense against government abridgement of personal liberties, not against the way overblown danger of terrorism. 
Originally Posted by MelloncView Post
Yes it costs money for us but unfortunately we got to pay for our freedom somehow. 
Freedom isn't free, but you don't pay for it with money. If you've been buying boxes of New Freedom or Stayfree in the store, I've got news for you - that ain't freedom you're buying. 
Although freedom has been purchased for us in blood, the true price of freedom is RISK, risk that someone will abuse their freedom to do others harm. That price cannot, MUST not, be borne by a few, but must be borne by all who wish to maintain their freedoms. 
The money we pay for TSA doesn't safeguard our freedoms one iota. In point of fact, we're paying for our own government to destroy our freedoms and strip away our rights, all in the name of safety and security that are impossible to achieve. 
Originally Posted by MelloncView Post
Devon suggestion is to outlaw hand guns altogether. No exceptions even in checked luggage. Makes it much easier to have a universal policy. 
There already is a universal policy - firearms are prohibited in the cabin. What is banning firearms from checked bags going to accomplish? It's a non-threat - passengers can't access the luggage holds! I don't know where you came up with this particular non-sequitur, but let me respond by saying that the price of tribbles on Benecia is on the rise, and the price of grapes in Carthage is on the decline. 
Originally Posted by MelloncView Post
Third is to restrict visa allowances people from unfriendly countries. And stop pretending that we are about refugees defecting. The times of Elise Island and accepting the poor and the hungry are long over. We gotta be selective and smart about who we let in. Lastly I'd be in favor of folding the DHA into DOD, which has real soldiers and real powers. Just some suggestions. 
Yipe. This paragraph is so full of... 
Okay, I'll just take it point by point: 
1) Define "unfriendly countries." And define the parameters you use to decide whose visas are denied based on their country of origin or citizenship. I believe we already have a list of countries put out by the State Department of those who are embargoed or are considered state sponsors of terrorism. But keep that xenophobia and bigotry up! I'm sure it keeps you warm at night. 
2) We are still about refugees and always will be. The time of "Elise" island (by the way, it's Ellis Island, Elise was Alex P. Keaton's Mom on Family Ties) may be over, but the time of America welcoming those from other nations who wish to become Americans through hard work will never end. And we ARE selective and smart about who we let in. In fact, we may be a little TOO selective; skilled people from other countries who want to emigrate to the US often have a really difficult time getting in. 
3) I have no idea what the DHA is, but if you're referring to the DHS (Department of Homeland Security), then I think you're out of your mind to want to fold it into the DOD (Department of Defense). The DOD encompasses the armed forces, which are used to defend the nation against armed invasion, and fights wars against other nations.
The DHS, on the other hand, is a .......ized agency cobbled together from domestic law enforcement and investigatory agencies. Ther is no way in hell I want the FBI - domestic national police force - to be part of the military. I even think it's a tremendous mistake to have folded the US Coast Guard - a branch of military service tasked with defending US national waters - into the DHS. 
The armed forces fight the country's enemies. When you try to task them with policing the citizens of their country, they inevitably come to regard the citizens AS the enemy, and that's when you get a military dictatorship or oligarchy or other form of tyrannical rule. The military should have no authority whatsoever over the people. 
Nor should police forces be militarized into domestic occupation forces. Police forces in this country already tend to feel that they're soldiers in a war, and they regard the citizenry as the enemy, which is why we have such a disconnect between the police and the people they're supposed to be protecting and serving. The more militarized they get, the more they'll feel like soldiers, and the more they feel like soldiers, the more they'll act like soldiers. 
Personally, I'd be in favor of abolishing DHS entirely and folding its constituent agencies back into the other federal departments from whence they originally came. The very name, Homeland Security, gave me chills from the first time I heard it, and not in a good way. 
Well, this has been a rant, but let me sum up by saying simply that I completely disagree with everything you said.
Flying is a RIGHT, not a privilege. Anyone who says otherwise, just because the right to fly isn't enumerated in the Constitution, is full of beans.
Bravo, bravo, bravo, a thousand times, WillCAD. I hope you see this. I would say I hope you'll change some minds, but I already know from years of being at this that you won't. It's enough that you're on the record with your eloquence and clear-sightedness. Thank you.