10 ways the TSA is losing the love

Nov. 16, 2010

The TSA just can't get any love when it comes to the new airport screening procedures -- even though TSA earned a nice PR bump from a CBS News Poll released Monday, Nov. 15, 2010. That news poll said 81 percent of Americans are OK with full-body X-ray scanners. But you know things are bad when DHS Secretary Napolitano has to write an op-ed for USA Today stating that the scanners are safe and the pat-downs are discreet.

So, where has the TSA not been getting the love?

Well, for starters there's (1) that "Don't touch my junk" YouTube video from John Tyner that seems to be pretty popular. You might also like his blog. And then there was (2) this wonderful column from The Atlantic where a journalist red teams the TSA checkpoints repeatedly using the help of Bruce Schneier, and points out the obvious identity management system flaw that the airlines use in conjunction with the TSA.

Want to express your lack of love for the TSA? You can (3) dump $42.50 on a thick sweatshirt that proclaims "If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested". Good luck wearing that one through airport security and not getting a secondary screening, though. They should market it as the "Guaranteed to be groped" sweatshirt.

Through their unions, pilots are (4) protesting the increased threat imaging process, and even (5) Capt. Chelsey "Sully" Sullenberger says he's against that process for pilots. Keep in mind this is the same guy who gave the keynote address last month at the ASIS International security tradeshow. And also keep in mind that these pilots are the same people that could end the lives of all their passengers at a moment's notice simply by crashing the plane into the ground, never mind the fact that most would rather try to emulate Sully and save the lives of their passengers.

The (6) SPOT behavior identification program that the TSA runs (which is similar to what you might find if you were flying Israel's El Al airline) has been repeatedly bashed by reports from the GAO and newspapers like this one.

I wrote last week in my weekly recap that the FDA conveniently said that the radiation emitted from these scanners isn't at a dangerous level, but there are still (7) real questions about the radiation and about the long-term effects. There was even a report from the Nuclear Energy Agency which recommended that kids and pregnant women not be scanned.

Well, if the public is being hit with radiation, at least their personal naked images aren't saved and can't be seen by anyone other than that TSA agent in the backroom, right? That's what has consistently been told to the flying public, but (8) Gizmodo somehow found 100 photographs from a millimeter wave scanner that was used at a courthouse. It's a story that proves that the machines clearly do have the ability to save the images, and that agents will save the images.

There's always the (9) social media element, which can serve as a nice pulse of the public's thinking on a given subject. Search "TSA" on Twitter, and you'll come up with a bajillion tweets in the last hour that mention the TSA. After reading for a few minutes, I still had not found one tweet that was positive or could possibly be construed as being in the TSA's favor. Some were even claiming the TSA wants to put hands down your pants now, which seems a little ridiculous if you ask me. The Twitter community is even hash tagging the TSA with #TSAfail and #optout. I guess there's #nolovefortheTSAontwitter.

And (10) finally, TSA should know it has lost the love when Miami Herald humor columnist Dave Barry writes about your procedures after he's been told he has a blurry groin. I can't explain it; you'll just have to read his column.

Love or not, at least they're trying. I guess you can just put me in that 81 percent who is OK with the scanners.


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