TSA puts on a good show to make us feel better post 9-11

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 3, 2006

I just recently took a business related trip to Panama on board a Continental plane. (This trip caused me to miss a class reunion.) It was during the flight to Cristobol I had time to reflect as to what takes place and question why.

What I found was rather unique as to what the Transportation Safety Administration can put you through and the rules and regulations that cover your flying. Some of these Comprehensive Employment and Training Act graduates need to be taken out of service and retired. Some of them are annoying and an utterly useless regimen of airport security that now and then detains me to the ‘4-S&uot; search (for those of who do not fly, if you get a boarding pass with&uot; SSSS&uot; on it, you will be detained, &uot;arrested&uot; so to speak. You will be subject to a &uot;thorough&uot; search of your person and belongings.

The search is just the worst of the many airport security hassles that travelers have had to endure since 9-11. Some of these hassles are warranted and I don’t really mind some of the actions that I have had to go through; and I agree some are actually useful. I know that the government is attempting to look out for my best interest, I think.


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However the federal government and the &uot;powerful&uot; TSA would have figured out almost five years after 9-11 what they are doing is ridiculous and in the long run is counterproductive.

It’s a dog and pony show that masquerades as &uot;security&uot; and should be replaced with a system that is both less intrusive to the ordinary citizens and better at screening out the bad guys. You would think that the government recognizes that the method used in the 9-11 attacks would not have been possible if reinforced doors of the cockpit had been installed. Alert passengers would never allow bad guys to take over a plane. (post 9-11 thinking as in Flight 93 of 9-11)

I, of course, could be wrong. The entire post 9-11 security regimen is not about security. It is about show; it is about “busy work,” putting on a show so that infrequent travelers can feel safe — soccer moms, grandma, grandpa and little kids traveling alone.

The TSA makes them all feel safe in the long run. They are detaining people. Good. Since I trust President Bush and the federal government &uot;completely,&uot; this must be a good thing.

Spare me. Allow me to educate you. Let’s look at some of the guidelines and rules on how efficient the TSA really is. It is a joke.

The following is a list of potential weapons that the TSA allows on board after another of their 4-S screenings. Passengers have to stow their laptop computers, but a 23-month-old child weighs much more than a laptop computer. Any high school physics student knows the force that an object packs upon impact is related to the mass of that object. So, if the plane were to suddenly stop during landing or take off, a flying junior would cause far more damage than a flying Dell notebook. Dell must be stowed, while junior can go on screaming on mom’s lap. That is absolutely asinine.

Of course, Congress is responsible for this.

People have grown use to the benefit of having Junior fly for free, even if it is a hazard to the rest of us. This is even all the more curious in an era where air security is supposedly so important. How can Congress allow people to hold 20 pound projectiles on their laps? Well, we know that answer don’t we?

Lets take a look at the following list of potential weapons that we can take on board and find on board. A laptop computer can be used to bash someone over the head. A spare computer battery can be easily modified to have sharp edges. My Ipod headphones

could be useful for strangulation. My hands (if I am a Chuck Norris and how do they know I am not a Chuck Norris?) could be lethal weapons.

In addition, after I got on the plane, Continental provided me with the following potentially dangerous items, and all apparently approved by our wonderful TSA and approved by who? Our Congress.

A real drink glass. Seriously. I flew first class and I got a glass that can be easily broken and used for slitting of throats. A metal fork. The TSA mandates that Continental give me a plastic butter knife, but they allow the airline to give me a metal fork. In a life and death battle, which would you rather have: a very dull metal knife or a weapon that can easily puncture a kidney, heart or larynx? The TSA mandates the more formidable weapon.

The airline phone cord found in coach class — it, too, can be used for strangulation.

Galley items. You could grab a hot pot of coffee and use it to scald people. This is not a weapon, but nail clippers are?

How about a flimsy nail file? Spare me. Lighters are banned but matches are not? Wine bottles. Full, they make a very nice club. Empty, they can be broken and turned into a very formidable weapon as well.

The TSA takes my nail clippers and that hazardous file and makes Granny take off her shoes, But they let airlines bring real bottles of wine on board the planes. Incredible!!

The point is not to suggest you could take over an airplane or to give terrorists a guide on how to take over a plane. It has to do with two simple facts for which Bush No. 1 can take credit. It is his only significant accomplishment in

air security — reinforced cockpit doors.

The primary security failure of 9-11 was not box cutters (which our wonderful self protecting federal government said at the time were perfectly legal to carry on planes), nor was it ‘private’ security screeners that had to be replaced by more useless federal employees. It was the fact that the bad guys gained access to the cockpit of the planes. Take that access away and 9-11 doesn’t happen. Period.

So, the entire TSA is an unnecessary joke, a regimen of busybodies network of CETA graduates, forced upon us the American people to make us to feel safe and good about flying.

They do serve a purpose, but even with AK 47’s the bad guys cannot take over an airplane with properly reinforced cockpits. Not all planes have been upgraded either. And there are not air marshals on every flight, and nor do they

need to be.

Volper is a former Suffolk resident now living in Houston. Contact him at oceandancer2471@yahoo.com