What's A Greater Threat To Airline Security?

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  1. Abusiveelusive says:

    I think this is going to be one-sided…

  2. B says:

    Could somebody explain to me how the TSA’s incompetence will cause a plane to crash without terrorists being involved? Perhaps they could confiscate a diabetic pilot’s insulin, but other than that, I can’t think of a way.

  3. mopar_man says:


    I think so too. TSA with the landslide.

  4. whereismyrobot says:


  5. urban_ninjya says:

    Greater threat to security of course is Terrorists. TSA is just annoying causing you to missing flights, etc… certainly not a security risk. Of couse we all hate the invasion of privacy and the extra 3 hours of unecessary lines added to our international flight. I’d say TSA is a greater liability to our economy through lost productivity.

  6. mopar_man says:


    I guess you must’ve missed reading this post: Link

  7. ChicagoAndy says:

    It seems like we’ve got a very short memory. Before TSA, we had incompetent organizations like WackenHut security making life painful in a far more arbitrary and capricious manner. At least with TSA there’s national standards, and some semblance of accountability. The TSA may have it’s issues, but it’s far superior to its predecessor.

  8. B says:

    @mopar_man: But without the terrorists, there would be no bomb for the TSA to not find.

  9. rbf2000 says:

    Well, from an economic standpoint, you could make the argument that the TSA is worse than terrorists. If you look at the social net benefit (or adversity) to each. You would basically add up the minor inconveniences to everybody that has to go through security, and compare that to the major inconvenience of getting blown up on a plane.

    With the number of people that go through security each day, I wouldn’t be surprised if the TSA was the worse of the two.

    Of course, I have no data, and I only know enough economics to get myself in trouble, so maybe somebody wiser than myself can help clarify.

  10. umonster says:

    What a stupid poll

  11. RandomHookup says:

    Where are ‘sloppy airline maintenance’ and ‘airline bankruptcies’?

  12. Thrust says:

    I think the big threat to airlines is that woman with the sippycup full of water, MAN could she have caused some damage if they didn’t catch her in time.

  13. ancientsociety says:

    Greater threat is the TSA and the stupid inept counter-terrorism measures of our enlightened leaders.

    The main motivation behind terrorism is to get your victims to change their behavoir because A) it lessens the chance that your enemy will focus on the root cause (i.e. you, the terrorist), B) make your enemy deal with past rather than future threats, and C) furthers your own goals by making your enemy enforce ‘laws’ and restrict freedoms in the name of ‘security’.

  14. umrain says:

    When is security going to catch those guys who are always robbing people’s luggage?

  15. iamgibson says:

    @ABUSIVEELUSIVE You are right on target this is majorly one sided

  16. Youthier says:

    This is kind of a silly poll. I don’t think anyone (or anyone with a brain) is going to say that the TSA doesn’t need to be reformed or replaced because it obviously does but I would rather be on an airplane with a TSA agent than a terrorist.

  17. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @HeyHermano: The terrorist would probably be a lot smarter than the TSA agent.

  18. Mojosan says:

    Asinine and ignorant.

    Why not ask a few of the relatives of the passengers of Flight 93 who they are more concerned with “Make plane go boom.”


  19. Venkman says:

    Damn straight Mojosan, that’s just stupid.

    Incompetence is not terrorism.

  20. ancientsociety says:

    @Mojosan: Given their track record for actually finding bombs/weapons/etc., I doubt the TSA would have been much help to Flight 93.


  21. backspinner says:

    I agree with those who question this poll. Sure the TSA is incompetent, but I’ve never seen TSA employees use jets as missiles to slam into buildings.

    The TSA just misses the bombs, they don’t create them and then use them to kill people.

  22. azntg says:

    The TSA will MAKE terrorists out of you, even if you normally are a non-malevolent (I understand it doesn’t necessarily have to be benevolent) citizen.

  23. tcp100 says:

    Gee Ben, this poll is sure going to show someone… something.

    What exactly is the point again?

    I think this is the first “rhetorical poll” I’ve seen.

    It seems that people ridicule TSA for their incompetence, yet get all pissy when they’re overly-aggressive. No wonder they have an image problem.

    How exactly do you want it? Magical employees that can divine the presence of bombs with their mind, yet have the tender loving touch of your grandmother and the jocularity of a college buddy? Yes, that’s exaggeration – but you’ll NEVER catch all bombs, and you’ll ALWAYS find someone offended by security.

    TSA has severe problems, but it’s not a question of “which is worse”. That’s simply belittling the threat of terrorism in the face of something that has been a government problem since its inception: bureaucracy. The problem is policy and the idiots 51% of the populace have elected into office – not the hourly paid screener.

    And of course people bring up the “sippycup woman”, again blaming a TSA agent for not making a “mom exemption”. It comes off as a joke, but it’s a sad testimony of the double standard we hold the TSA to. Guess what, they follow the rules given them, and nobody’s exempt. Especially if you throw a fit and ask for special treatment. The only way to apply such rules and exempt moms and grandmas would be to profile! (Oh, no, don’t say that!)

    Then we have the armchair security experts.. The average joes who run a comedy routine about “3 oz of liquid”, assuming that everything done by the TSA is pulled completely out of a government ass in the sky. No, they possibly couldn’t have done an assessment to determine the minimum amount of currently-available liquid explosives that could cause catastrophic damage to a plane, could they? Nah, must just be the gubmint tryin’ to keep the citizenry from drinkin’ their Evian. That’s it! Hey, let’s smoke up and watch Loose Change again!

    @Chicagoandy is dead-on too, nobody remembers the horrors of the high-school-drop-out privatized security squads that preceded TSA. Like any government organization, it needs the correct oversight. It ain’t got it right now. THAT’S where the problem is, not the very existence of the organization or the low-level agents.

    Oh, and Ben? “Plane Go Boom”? Really damn out-of-line and tacky, dude. One would think being in NYC it wouldn’t be so “LOL” to you.

  24. Ikki says:

    How the hell is the TSA winning? They don’t do anything that would make a plane crash into the ground, all they do is arbitrarily confiscate your stuff. Even if that is a giant annoyance, I doubt it’s as dangerous as, oh, I don’t know, A TERRORIST WITH A MACHINE GUN ON THE PLANE.

  25. Peeved Guy says:

    And it’s tcp100 for the win!
    Excellent post.

  26. Trick says:

    Plain and simple, nothing will change until the Muslim apologist and blame bush crowd give up their stereotype rhetoric.

    Granda Jones and little Timmy or Betsy are not the threat.

    Muslim men, aged 13-40 are. Not older Muslim terrorists. They are the cowards who prefer to hide behind the younger, far more stupid Muslim men.

    Cry racists and whatever… blah blab blah. The simple fact is that old ladies and young children do not want to blow up planes.

  27. s35flyer says:

    we obviously have nitwits taking the poll. TSA is a greater threat to security than terrorists? Must be 1st graders or liberals answering the poll.

  28. Televiper says:

    The TSA’s incompetence and the vacuum they leave in their wake makes everybody unsafe from everybody. It’s completely absurd to have rules that stop a woman from boarding with a sippy-cup full of water, or a 2-year old on the no fly list. That’s what I mean by incompetent. How many more stupid rules will they pile on before it’s unsafe to fly if you’re elderly, or have a heart problem because you won’t be able to bring medication on board? It’s not like it’s just a couple hours anymore.

    As long as the TSA is there not doing a good job at making you safe. You have no chance at being safe at all. That’s why they’re the greater threat.

  29. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Obviously, the winner of the chicken-or-the egg contest is the terrorists because without the terrorists, there’s be no threat (duh). However, the TSA, being inconsistent and incompetent is also just as much of a threat, because it lulls everyone into thinking that the situation is completely under control and everyone is safe, when the reality of the situation is that the TSA couldn’t find an explosive device hidden in luggage if it was round and sizzling and said “ACME” on the front.

    PS-I’m a liberal, and anyone who makes this into a liberal vs. conservative thing can bite my shiny aluminum ass.

  30. Chese says:

    I am going to go out on a limb and say that the TSA have not hijacked any planes or blown any of them up.

    Yes , the TSA does a bad job, but if you actually picked the TSA as a greater threat there is something wrong with you.

  31. Bryan Price says:

    @chicagoandy: And when the next threat passes through TSA without a hitch, because they are paying attention to the threats that are not threats (The war on moisture being one of them) and being so caught up in looking for the movie script threats (that never work like they get shown on the silver screen – look at Glasgow for an excellent example of that).

    I flew on one of the last flights of 9/10 and 9/11. Do I feel any safer nowadays when I go through airport security? Gee, is it any wonder why I voted TSA?

    TCP100, you seem to think that being ridiculed and getting pissed on aren’t related? Because they both feed on each other.

    It’s something called professionalism and having rules that are rational and make sense. And both are extremely lacking in the TSA right now.

    The war on moisture. If there was a real threat, they would be handling the liquids a hell of a lot differently. X-raying our shoes for what? A failed plot that never worked?

    If you want security, put everybody in paper gowns, and sedate them. Heavily. Luggage goes separately on another plane.

  32. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Um, folks…I think the actual survey is meant to be more tongue-in-cheek than scientifically factual. I don’t think anyone really believes that the TSA are more of a threat to airline passengers than the the TSA is.

  33. Timbojones says:

    Security theater is a greater threat to real security than actual violence.

  34. EtherealStrife says:

    Missing Third Option: Bush Administration

    @dwayne_dibbly: =P

    Honestly I don’t understand why we even have security checkpoints. If we really gave a shit about saving lives we’d ban tobacco and work on new treatments for cancer, not stopping terrorists. “OH MY GOD NINE ELEVEN,” you say? Cigarette smoking causes the equivalent of 100 9/11’s and second hand smoke 1 9/11.

  35. EtherealStrife says:

    @EtherealStrife: Mmm cut off last line.


  36. no.no.notorious says:

    of course, most people vote TSA. TSA at least follows some sort of regulation. terrorists are random, and kill more people at once.

  37. Blue says:

    Give me a break. Can we be a little less hysterical. I’m reminded of a poll question during the welfare reform days of the 1990’s………….”Do you think that the Republicans are waging war on Americas children?”

  38. ZzFDKzZ says:

    I work for TSA and its pretty hard to spot items with the outdated 1980’s x-ray machines that we have to work with. Luckily new x-ray machines are going to replace the ones we use. So hopefully it will make weapons, and bombs easier to see.

  39. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Err..I meant to say “I don’t think anyone really believes that the TSA are more of a threat to airline passengers than the the terrorists are. D’Oh.

    @EtherealStrife: Yeah, no kidding..there’s always that missing third option.

  40. Triteon says:

    This is the most insanely, obvious political poll I’ve seen in a long time. Is there a good “answer” to the question– or only jaded, uninformed opinions? What an utterly worthless use of bandwith. Ben, you’re better than this.

  41. Landru says:

    The TSA is the threat to our freedom, our liberty, and our peace of mind. The “terrorists'” point is not to kill you; it’s to frighten you and to ruin your way of life. The TSA is giving this to them with on a platter, with intimidation of innocent people and incorporating fear into every aspect of travel, from those “unattended baggage” announcements to stewardess’ throwing toddlers off the plane.

  42. Trai_Dep says:

    TSA policies are counter to their function. That’s why I voted TSA.

    We NEED some entity to secure our transportation infrastructure. However, the billions of dollars and tens of thousands of personnel are directed at sippy cups, flip-flops, tweezers and cigarette lighters (but not 5 books of matches). All the churning that following these inane policies involve result in a piss-poor security job being done, which will result in a catastrophy.

    THAT’S what so infuriating about TSA. All the inconvenience, while reducing our security.

    And, yeah, Terrorism 101 is that they don’t care about bodies as much as impacting populations and affecting an enemy society’s ability to function. Don’t confuse means and ends. In that regard, the TSA is a bigger threat than terrorists.

  43. InThrees says:

    I don’t at all like how the poll is worded, but I have to say that the TSA provides a completely false sense of security.

    America is too insulated and Americans have an unreasonable sense of entitlement to perfect safety. Newsflash – the world isn’t that safe.

    Taking reasonable precautions to safeguard against major disturbances and hostile actions is fine. Radar nets, customs and shipping inspection, cursory passenger examination to determine they aren’t carrying explosives and firearms and hey, even pocket knives, why not.

    The kneejerk over the top response we’ve had since 9-11 is just ridiculous, however. Too many curtailings of personal freedom and even responsibility. I would much rather have less ridiculous security measures and more sky marshals. It has to be cheaper, and it damn sure would be more convenient and transparent.

    And no, I don’t think we need a marshal on every plane. When you’re talking about thousands of flights, it’s perfectly ok to play a numbers game and put a few undercover well armed marshals on every third or fourth plane.

    Is it foolproof and guaranteed security? No. Do we have that now with the throw-money-away-and-piss-off-citizens approach? Nope.

    I’m willing to accept some risk with my freedom if my government is willing to… leave my freedom alone.

  44. mattbrown says:

    loose lips sink ships, bitchez!!!

  45. mwatwe01 says:

    One problem with the TSA in the extreme cases is precisely that they follow the rules. There is no room for discretion or rational thought. To TCP100’s comment about profiling: so what?

    Here’s the hard truth. Here are some of the types of people who are NOT going to be a terrorist:

    – An elderly woman with a giant handbag.
    – A haggard married couple on vacation with two small children.
    – A teenage girl carrying a purse and an iPod.

    Here are the types of people who COULD be a terrorist:

    – Nervous Middle-Eastern men in their 20s and 30s.

    I should qualify this by saying that I have dark features and a smaller than average build. I have been mistaken for someone of Mediterranean or Middle-Eastern descent. I would be perfectly fine with additional scrutiny for me at the TSA checkpoint, but I get looked at so little now that I believe they are purposely not checking me for fear of complaint. So I breeze through security while some soccer mom gets her purse turned inside out.

    All I ask for is a little common sense.

  46. MeOhMy says:

    As flippantly as the poll is worded, I would not say “TSA is worse than terrorists,” but I certainly think that the TSA leads many people – from average joes right up to top government officials – into a false sense of security. This false sense of security IS worse because it has little benefit and its price is both freedom and safety (and a whole lot of money, too).

    Let’s face it – the theatrics are there just to make the Americans feel good. A determined terrorist who is fully expecting to die at the end of the job is already beyond being deterred by flashy-looking security measures and is going to just roll the dice and hope he makes it through. He does not care about the security measures.

    I don’t have a magic solution (such a beast does not exist in the world of security), but I would definitely encourage less theatrics in favor of deeper consideration and aggressive pursuit of actual risks.

  47. The Walking Eye says:

    @chicagoandy: It seems like we’ve got a very short memory. Before TSA, we had incompetent organizations like WackenHut security making life painful in a far more arbitrary and capricious manner. At least with TSA there’s national standards, and some semblance of accountability. The TSA may have it’s issues, but it’s far superior to its predecessor.

    Really? Every airport I’ve gone through since 9/11 has had different rules for things like removing shoes and toiletries. Some wiped my bags for explosives, others just threw the bags onto the planes. Some allowed carry-ons as big as a standard checked bag, others wouldn’t let me take an approved carry-on size past security. It’s just as haphazard as it was, only now under the guise of our protection from terrorists.

    Think about the measures they’ve taken with the “threat” of shoe bombs and liquid bombs and how the terrorists actually hi-jacked the planes on 9/11. They don’t match up and the “security” measures we take now wouldn’t stop the exact same thing happening again. You don’t need a weapon or bomb to take over a plane, brute force works just fine and has for decades ever since metal detectors became standard in airports.

  48. EtherealStrife says:

    @mwatwe01: One of the fiercest terrorist organizations in the world (the Tamil Tigers) uses Asian women and children in suicide bombings, and dislikes Muslims (membership is primarily Christian and Hindu). Try again.

    “According to Jane’s Information Group, between 1980 and 2000 LTTE had carried out a total of 168 suicide attacks on civilians and military targets. The number of suicide attacks easily exceeded the combined total of Hezbollah and Hamas suicide attacks conducted out during the same period.” (link)

    TMYK! :)

  49. FLConsumer says:

    I actually believe the TSA is a threat to airline security.

    With this sham of a “security” system, our government leaders (and some airline executives) don’t see a need for TRUE security. Our current TSA is no better than relying upon a guard dog that licks burglars or an alarm system which doesn’t work. It may look pretty, but it isn’t going to help you when you truly need it.

    Having worked in some rather hazardous conditions in 3rd world countries, I’ve come to learn what true security is and what it looks like. Most of the time, it’s very subtle. Thousands Standing Around doesn’t even come close to any of the security contractors & security professionals I’ve used. Ah, that’s the mistake — I’m looking for PROFESSIONALS, not one step above Wal-Mart stockboy.

    The Israeli’s have it right when it comes to security. Too bad we can’t learn from them.

  50. clr says:

    I lived in Israel for 6 years.

    But US airports are hiring ex-Israeli airport security experts and IT MAKES NO DIFFERENCE, because of one fundamental point:

    In Israel, airport security is considered a reasonably prestigious job. They pay well. They hire smart kids right out of the army, train them well, fly them all over the world, house them. It’s a good job to have post-army, until you figure out what you want to do.

    but in the US: Who do we hire? How do we train them? What do we pay them? If an El Al security screener is concerned about something, I’m probably going to listen, because I believe that they actually know what they’re talking about.

    Here’s an illustration: I am flying back to Israel from JFK. My bags go through x-ray. They stop. A guard comes over to me and says, “do you have a knife or scissors in your bag you could have forgotten about?” He shows me the bag.
    “I can’t think of anything.”
    “We’re seeing something long, thin and sharp. Any idea?”
    I suddenly realize it’s a letter opener. I open the bag, find it, show it to him. They run it through xray again. They don’t see anything – that was the suspicious object. I hand it back to my family, and I move on.

    IN THE US: I am flying back to the West Coast. Security see something. Instead of asking me what it could be, they keep running my bag through the xray machine as though it will tell them. Then they take EVERYTHING out of the bag. Finally, they find it. It was a moon-shaped bookmark I had gotten in a new book. They stare at it.
    “It’s a bookmark,” I say.
    They stare at it some more. I tell them to just take it already. They call a supervisor over, three of them involved now. She looks at it.
    “It’s a bookmark,” she says. She demonstrates how it works. They still don’t get it.

    The former took 5 minutes.
    The latter close to 30.

    Until we take airport security seriously, and are willing to staff and pay professionals – and treat it as a profession – it will never, ever get better. I am infuriated when I fly because I know I am not safer, but I am inconvenienced beyond all possible belief.