Catch Up On All The TSA Story Madness

There has been quite the cubic ton of stories this past week or so written about the TSA security procedures, the backlash to them, and the backlash-backlash. It’s hard to keep up with them all. So, to keep you sounding smart and making up-to-the-minute references, security guru Bruce Schneier has a massive, yet accessible, link roundup. Keep those wingtips up!

TSA Backscatter X-ray Backlash [Schneier on Security]


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  1. aloria says:

    Bruce can factor arbitrarily large numbers using only a slide-rule with both hands tied securely behind his back, but he has never had to because the last person who tried to tie his hands behind his back woke up in a seedy hotel in Southern Mexico without a kidney.

  2. aloria says:

    Also, how do you manage to spell Schneier’s name correctly in the write up, yet butcher it so horribly in the link description?

    P.S. Bruce Schneier can cross each of the 7 bridges of Konigsberg only once, and end back up where he started.

  3. spamtasticus says:

    For those of you that don’t know. Bruce is considered a security superfreak.

  4. LadyTL says:

    Since I still can’t take a bus or train to Newfoundland, I think when I opt out of the scan I’ll just tell them I’m on the rag. Let’s see how many of them want to grope my crotch after that.

    • AstroPig7 says:

      I tried that, but the beard and penis gave me away.

      • Pax says:

        Shave. Go in drag. Get some women to help you make it REALLY convincing. Opt-out of the body scanner (and make sure you’re picked for it, somehow).

        Wait for the shocked look on the TSA agent’s face when she encounters PENIS instead of vagina.

        Smile an evil little smile.

        [b]PROFIT![/b] >:)

    • dilbert69 says:

      You could take a ferry.

      • LadyTL says:

        They don’t have any buses that go over the ferry. I don’t live near newfoundland but I visit a fair bit to see my husband.

      • Morwen says:

        You can’t have taken the ferries to Newfoundland recently…. They aren’t much of an option. Either it’s broke down, the weather’s too bad, and the newest ferry induces seasickness in the most solid of stomachs as well as not having anywhere nice to sit.

        Not that flying here is a great option either, since it’s so damn expensive. The trip is totally worth it though, it’s beautiful here.

        (Born and raised a Newfie.)

    • Chaosium says:

      They don’t care, they use gloves.

    • huadpe says:

      You could take a bus or train to another Canadian city, and then go by plane from there. Domestic flights within Canada aren’t subject to the TSA.

    • outlulz says:

      You know, many of the TSA people are just people trying to feed their families during a crappy job market and don’t want to touch your junk any more than you want it touched. Especially since it’s same sex screening.

      • LadyTL says:

        Then maybe they should opt out of doing the groping.

      • SarasiPolyxena says:

        Just following orders?

      • kenj0418 says:

        So, you are saying the other ones are just in it for the kicks?

      • Framling says:

        They don’t have to work for the TSA. Working for the TSA is not a right, it’s a privilege. If you’re not willing to make sacrifices to work for the TSA, you should just work somewhere else instead.

        Why should my schadenfreude be sacrificed because some techno-libertarian whack-job TSA worker isn’t comfortable touching my genitals?

  5. vdestro says:

    Why is it that people like Bruce never get in positions of power in TSA/DHS? It’s always the ones that seem to not have a clue about security.

  6. Alvis says:

    Schneiear ?


  7. sonneillon says:

    We need to make as big of a stink as possible. Maybe have Glenn Beck do some TSA bad touching with music from the Omen and a Soviet Russia reference while coming up with a new TSA acronym.

    • Groanan says:

      We could only hope that Glenn Beck’s powers would be used for good instead of evil.

      I don’t even care whether or not he raped and murdered a girl in 1990, water under the bridge, if he rids us of the TSA.

      • 99 1/2 Days says:

        Wow, a slanderous lefty troll. How original.

        • BurtReynolds says:

          Disgust with Beck isn’t limited to the “left”. It is more of a question of having a brain or not having a brain.

          You might as well listen to your local morning zoo host for political direction, because that is all Beck was before turning his shtick from doing a character named “Clyde” for comedy to making nonsensical rants about government.

        • Skankingmike says:

          Wow an ignorant right wing nut job.

    • Chaosium says:

      I doubt they have the backbone to change anything, but I appreciate that they’re incensed, no matter whether they blame Obama or not. He is and isn’t to blame. Bush’s TSA head pushed and is still pushing these devices, but we’re accepting them as “necessary”, so just as much to blame for them and the “enhanced screening procedures” used to shame people into the pornoscanners.

  8. JayPhat says:

    I am gonna opt for the pat down next time. And start moaning. Loudly.

  9. catnapped says:

    Sheesh people, what’s the big deal? Drop your pants, assume the position (spread em) and cough. What’s so hard about that?

    (being proactive because you know somebody will say it :) )

    • Chaosium says:


      Man, take this shit seriously.

  10. edosan says:

    It doesn’t matter.

    Everyone can gripe about this all they want, but until people stop flying, and stop flying in enough numbers that it impacts the bottom line, this stuff is never going to stop. Ever.

    People just got used to the four ounce bottles, the taking off our shoes and everything else. They’ll get used to this because people aren’t willing to stop flying. Everybody will bitch, but then they’ll keep flying and that will be that.

    What’s next? Random cavity searches? Who knows.

    • StarVapor says:

      What’s next?…Not random but mandatory full body cavity searches, in full public view, on closed circuit TV in all the airport lounges and bars….That’s if you pass through the thought scanner first.

    • Chaosium says:

      “Everyone can gripe about this all they want, but until people stop flying, and stop flying in enough numbers that it impacts the bottom line, this stuff is never going to stop. Ever.”

      And even then, because the TSA operates independently from the Airlines/Airports.

    • Putaro says:

      No. This is a political problem. Write or call your representatives (I have). Drop a note to the President. Make it change, don’t just accept it.

      • Shield Ramrod says:

        Parents now have to imagine complete strangers looking at their children naked or being forced to subject to pat downs that get close to their private parts.

        I suspect it’s harder to say “shut up, you whiners” when they realize those snickering fucks are snickering at *their* teenage daughter and/or feeling up *her* vagina and breasts.

        American parents are fiercely territorial – they even put GPS units on their children, for chrissake. I think this groundspring will only grow, especially after all those family trips during Thanksgiving when millions of fliers will have to go through these experiences.

        I hang my head in shame…because I am, in fact, saying “but think of the CHILDREN!”

      • tooluser says:

        Me too!

        Without exception, they have not replied, and haven’t addressed the situation on their websites or with any public statements.

        They do not care about me, or you, or anyone but themselves.

  11. chrisdag says:

    Awesome to see a link to Schneier on here, he is the real deal.

  12. stegosaurus1 says:

    Bruce is the author of the Blowfish Encryption Algorithm, a runner-up in the AES algorithm competition.

    The man knows security.

    Unlike the TSA.

    • zentex says:

      NOW I know who he is, thanks.

      I was wondering who this “security expert” was and how he might be qualified to be called such.

  13. Me - now with more humidity says:

    We should all start wearing very large strapons when we get to security. That should totally flip them out.

  14. AK47 - Now with longer screen name! says:

    Moderate | Flag for review

    Nice link, thanks. I like this quote he includes from another article:
    Marijn Ornstein said: “If you look at all the recent terrorist incidents, the bombs were detected because of human intelligence not because of screening … If even a fraction of what is spent on screening was invested in the intelligence services we would take a real step toward making air travel safer and more pleasant.”

    Hear, hear.

    • Rommel says:

      Oh, like that time a guy got onto a plane, then was caught with a bomb after a nearby passenger saw him light his crotch on fire?

      He was able to get past “security” with a freaking bomb. A PASSENGER had to do the job of the TSA because they don’t know jack about security. All they know now is how to sexually molest kids, and rape adults.

  15. Not Given says:

    I liked the comments the other day from the guys talking about wearing kilts, traditionally, the next time they fly. I think they should also take a viagra and think very hard about whoever it takes, rub themselves with their carry on, etc. to make the screener as uncomfortable as possible.

    I just wish I could think of something just as good for the other half of the population. The best I can do is a below the knee skirt, crotchless panties, no bra, and the old fashioned kind of sanitary napkin, with the belt. Do they even still make those belts?

    I thought it was ridiculous several years ago when my son said he saw a woman with very short hair and a tank top being very carefully wanded up and down each bare arm and over her head.

    • Pax says:

      Nah, not a kilt.

      As I just suggested, guys who can do it, should go in DRAG. Get some lady friends to help make it as convincing as possible – and practise the walk, the talk, etc. Make it so your own MOTHER starts to wonder if she had a daughter, after all.

      And go commando, of course.

      Make sure you get pulled over for the body-scan. Opt out. At this point, you’ll be assigned a WOMAN fo the pat-down, because they should think you are, in fact, a woman.

      When she looks up at you, startled because insteadof vagina, she’s just encounter a big, hairy penis?

      Smile an evil little smile at her.

      >:D hehehehehe … MWA HA HA HA HA …!!!

    • gman863 says:

      I just wish I could think of something just as good for the other half of the population.

      It’s called a “strap on” – the instant temporary version of Chastity Bono’s (Cher’s daughter) recent surgery.

    • wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

      Mix Vaseline and red coloring together. Apply it over your pants, in *just* the right spot.

      See if the agent vomits.

      And just to clarify… the only reason I support making this awful for the agents is in hopes that they begin to speak out, too, about this ridiculous procedure.

  16. gman863 says:

    If the TSA picks me, I’ll tell the screener If you touch my junk be damn sure you follow through and give me a happy ending.

  17. ldub says:

    Here’s my concern: putting all the (scary as sh*t) issues with the body pat-down aside, I’m surprised at how blase most people are about the full body x-rays. Children and immuno-compromised people amongst others are at higher risk for health issues due to the radiation.

    And for those who reply “well, it’s as much radiation as another 2 minutes of flying” I say this: that’s assuming they are working *perfectly”. Machines like these need to be carefully callibrated and checked *regularly* to ensure they are working properly because they go out of compliance all the time. Hospitals have whole teams of professionals who are constantly checking and repairing this kind of stuff. Who is doing that job in the airports? How can I find out when the last time a machine was inspected? We can get into any elevator in the country and see who/when it was last checked – what about these machines?

    • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

      You get exposed to about 2.4 microrems of radiation from a body scanner. A flight from NY to Paris will expose you to 3500 microrems!!! (You get an average of 660 micro-REMS per hour in flight.) Even if the scanners WERE slightly out of calibration, it wouldn’t be near the exposure of people who fly, and some people fly ALL THE TIME!!! Look at pilots, stewards/esses, business people, etc. If the radiation was as dangerous as people are trying to make it out to be, NOBODY would fly at all because of the exposure they get while in the air!

      • verdegrrl says:

        It’s all cumulative:

        “Most higher energy X rays pass entirely through the body. Rays that pass through the body, by definition, do not cause cancer or anything else. It’s when they are stopped by the body that they cause trouble.
        Lower energy X rays used in backscatter machines are specifically used because they’re absorbed very quickly by the body. That means that the majority of the energy is affecting living cells in the body. Even though there is less total energy, it’s being concentrated in a small part of your body.
        A more apt description would be, how do you want 20 pounds of force applied to your body, by someone poking you with a bean bag chair or by someone poking you with a knife? It’s the same force either way, but when you concentrate it on a small area of the body, it can cause a lot more damage.”

  18. catnapped says:

    Heads up kids, they’re now saying if you don’t comply with the scan or grope you can be arrested and/or fined up for $11,000.

  19. parabola101 says:
  20. outlulz says:

    My problem with all this is the threats to sexually harass the TSA screeners back. Not all of the TSA screeners are poorly trained assholes like the ones that come up in stories. To most of them this is just a crappy job they need, and I’m sure it’s not ideal for male employees to spend all day feeling other men’s penises or for female employees to feel other women’s breasts.

    Take your frustrations out on the agency, not the employees.

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      How do you propose people properly express their frustration to the agency? People are writing their congress critters, Blogs abound citing useless security theater, Many people refuse to travel by air unless absolutely essential. –Yes, I’ve seen the great deals for JetBlue et al recently and the thought of being irradiated and/or groped were definitely factors in deciding to pass on them. (Haven’t flown in nearly 4 years)

      I find the veracity of the recent CBS poll (85% approval) highly suspect. As I already pointed out, I’m not what one would call a “frequent flier” by any stretch of the imagination (the trip prior to the one mentioned was in 2000) But I’m dead set against those machines, the groping, and other silly measures such as confiscating water bottles. It seems far more likely that CBS is a pawn in a propaganda/misinformation campaign in hopes of shaping public opinion toward the newer “security” measures.

      I’m certain those at the top of the food chain are well aware that these are not effective counter measures, let alone cost-effective ones, as I’m certain Israeli air security officials have personally told them as much. But at that level, it doesn’t appear to matter. When there are vast profits to be made selling full body scanners to the tax payers, and policies can be put in place seemingly on a whim to make the nude-o-scope seem a less undesirable option; the agency has already made it known loud and clear that they don’t give a damn what the public thinks or what will actually improve security.

      So that seems to leave the folks on the front lines–the TSA screeners. Yes, I know they hate the job. But “just following orders” wasn’t a valid defense for Nazi brown shirts, or for U.S. Soldiers at Abu Ghirab either. If we all simply rolled (bent?) over and went along with the program, it would make their jobs much easier I’m sure, but is that really what we want?

      Make them as uncomfortable as we are with these overly invasive and ineffective security procedures, and they’ll complain to their superiors, and if nothing is done, they’ll leave for greener pastures, and without the ability to keep the checkpoints properly staffed, it will force those at the top to re-examine the issue and actually work toward the goal of making air travel more pleasant AND safer.

      • outlulz says:

        You really think they would have a problem filling jobs in this market? The TSA employees quitting wouldn’t hinder them a bit with the amount of people looking for any kind of employment.

  21. buddyedgewood says:

    If I had the balls… I would have a friend with a video camera standing behind me in the security line at an airport. While my friend would be filming and just as I was about to be scanned or groped, I would then start yelling at the top of my lungs: “ALLAHU AKBAR!” over and over. What do you think the reaction would be? From passengers? From TSA? I think everyone would sh*t their pants and the airport would be closed down in a matter of seconds. No doubt I would be arrested (for what, I don’t know, maybe disturbing the peace?)… all because I yelled the phrase Allahu Akbar. One thing for sure, I bet the video would go viral.

  22. MikeM_inMD says:

    I wish someone could explain to me why the 4th Amendment guarantee “to be secure in my person” against warrant-less searches without “probable cause” doesn’t apply in airports.

  23. PLATTWORX says:

    The procedures are vital. The TSA agents are about as well trained as Walmart employees and their lack of smarts and professionalism has caused this PR train wreck… that could put passenger at risk if all this chaos about sceening and refusing to be screened allows a terrorist to slip through. This mess is exactly what they want!

  24. donovanr says:

    Osama sits in a cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan and rants every now and then. His ability to reach out and touch me is quite limited. But the TSA presents a clear and present danger to the civil rights of every traveler. If the TSA is allowed to get away with this crap then why not have the police set up check points in downtown? There is no balancing fundamental rights against the convenience of government bureaucrats. What legal difference would there be? I suspect that the police would find all kinds of interesting crimes if they could check everyone’s ID and give them a pat down.

    The TSA says you gave up your rights when you entered security. Why not argue that you gave up your rights when you are in the US? Unless there is a part of the constitution that says something like “Ignore the above amendments when the TSA says so.” The TSA is very much in the wrong. There is no balancing fundamental rights against the convenience of government bureaucrats. The TSA must be shut down instantly, its operators investigated for civil rights violations and normal police put in place who understand that they require probable cause to even slow someone down let alone start bothering them.

    • catnapped says:

      Assuming Osama is actually still alive he’s too busy laughing his ass off to bother with another taped message (or another terrorist attempt)

  25. gr8smile says:

    When are our esteemed government reps who think this is a great idea going to step up to the plate and prove their agreeability by subjecting themselves and their families to these security measures?

    I think Obama should show America that his family is willing to submit to the security scan as well as letting TSA perform a pat down on him, in public, in front of a camera for all to see. Prove to us that there is no big deal in putting your family through this type of bodily invasion. If its no big deal, then do it to YOUR family! I am choosing not to fly…. Renting a car for my Thanksgiving travel….