my letter to Senator Kerry in re the TSA

(I am limited in how lucid I can be with half an hour to the committee meeting, after a morning of an emergency tooth extraction for my three-year-old in which I suspect the anesthetic did not take. I’ll be over here gibbering and wishing that post-op care for my now quite cheerful three-year-old were consistent with high-proof alcohol. But here’s what I sent Senator Kerry just now.)

I understand that you are a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security, which is convening a TSA oversight meeting later this morning.

I strongly urge you to take a stand against the abuses of power and threats to our safety now being perpetrated by the TSA. A culture that feels it acceptable to demand that citizens submit to naked photographs, or else be invasively groped, is a culture drunk on its own power. An administration that feels it acceptable to submit children to this same — to expect parents to choose between pornography and molestation — is an administration that has lost all sight of protecting both our safety and our freedom. I cannot comprehend the logic of committing crimes against both our privacy and our freedom to protect us. I cannot understand how, in fact, we are protected at all if we are required to be victims of crime — victims of crime at the hands of our own government — in order to fly.

As the mother of a three-year-old girl, it is my duty as a parent not to allow her to fly until our security procedures return to sanity. As such, I am unable to give the airlines my family’s business. I regret the impact on our economy, but my family’s safety and security matter more.

As a private citizen, I have never before been afraid of my government, but it directly threatens me now. I am ashamed to be an American when America thinks so little of its liberty, and I am prepared to vote on this issue alone until it is resolved. I urge you to stand up for our safety and freedom by putting a stop to this TSA insanity. Thank you for your time.

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10 thoughts on “my letter to Senator Kerry in re the TSA

  1. The head of the TSA did say on NPR yesterday that children under 12 are exempt from these procedures. To which my immediate reaction was, so you are ok submitting a kid just now going through puberty to this?! Jesus, people.

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  2. For me, it is a question of how much security am I buying for whatever bit of freedom/privacy/whatever I’m giving up. If 1 out of 100 planes were the subject of terrorist attacks without the scanners/pat-downs, and the scanners/pat-downs stopped 100% of the attacks… I’d probably be ok with it. I might ask, “is there a better way to do this”, but I’d accept some necessity for something extreme.

    But the current situation involves… what… a few attempted (and failed!) attacks in the past 8 years, out of how many millions of flights? The skies are already safer than most other forms of transportation, and using large passenger planes as missiles ala 9/11 is probably no longer an issue because the passengers would revolt… and I’m unconvinced that the scanner/pat-downs would actually catch (or deter) that high a percentage of the attempts. There just isn’t a good excuse for the extreme measures being implemented.

    -Marcus

    (if the government wanted to invade our privacy with some result, maybe they could require breathalyzer locks in all motor vehicles, which could reduce the 11,000+ alcohol-related vehicle deaths a year, and the 215 children-under-14 who die a year in alcohol-related vehicle accidents. Not that I’m proposing that, it’s a bad idea too, but at least it would be addressing a real safety issue)

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    1. Yes, exactly. And when it comes to *actually committing crimes against people*, routinely, as a matter of policy, in the name of preventing a very rare crime (and maybe not even being effective in doing so)…this is simply incomprehensible.

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  3. 1. The retired head of security for El Al was on MSNBC last night discussing the TSA procedures. He thinks they are a waste of time and money. El Al interviews every passenger while they are in line at the airline counter checking in. They use well trained interviewers to screen the passengers. El Al has never had a passenger attack on its planes.

    2. Pilots are also required to undergo this screening which makes no sense whatsoever. They don’t need to carry explosives on board. After all they are flying a 100 ton aircraft loaded with jet fuel at 500 MPH and could just fly the plane into the ground or a building if they so wanted.

    3. Apparently, most cargo carried on planes is not screened at all. If you wanted to bomb a plane, shipping the explosive seems to be the way to go.

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    1. Hi, Dad!

      Yes, I have heard many of these same complaints — it’s bad enough to have ridiculously invasive screening, but it doesn’t even *work*?!? There’s a pilots’ union calling on its members to boycott this screening, too. And isn’t it sad that screening cargo would be more effective AND less intrusive, yet we don’t do it because…because…what? because it wouldn’t provide the theater?

      You see why the thought of flying for Christmas filled me with eight flavors of dread :/.

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      1. To be fair, the question of screening pilots has two wrinkles: first, it’s not as much a question of screening pilots as screening people dressed as pilots. Second, the argument doesn’t *ahem* fly if the pilot in question is smuggling items to destroy a different plane. Background checks aren’t effective either, as pilots can be coerced into bringing something past security rather than convinced — making them exempt from security actually exposes them and their families to hostile actors.

        On the whole, though, I think the additional procedures are just a poor tradeoff: too much dignity lost in exchange for too little additional security. But I guess Congress isn’t too good at putting a proper value on dignity.

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