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TSA Insanity

The news coming out of England this morning is depressing, and the reactions to it scary. I am glad that Parris returned home from Ireland on Monday, else she might be caught up in the madness at Heathrow. I am of course pleased that the British caught a bunch of terrorists, and look forward to seeing them tried, and the evidence of their plots (these liquid explosives and electronic triggers) brought forward in a court of law, but I am aghast at the "security" measures that are now being taken in the wake of those arrests.

I have always hated airline "security." Step by step, year by year, the TSA and its predecessors have taken away more and more of our freedoms, subjecting millions of perfectly innocent travellers to searches and interrogations and other hassles in the vague hopes of catching hijackers (in the old days) and terrorists (these days). Even if it worked, the price would be too high, but of course it does not work. It has never worked. All of the 9/11 killers strolled through airport "security" without a problem, yet little old ladies in wheelchairs are pulled from line and patted down, people who have never committeed a crime in their life are being forced to remove their shoes and belts and empty their pockets, and cigarette lighters and toy guns and Swiss army knives are being confiscated and sold (yes, that's what they do with those lighters they take from people, they SELL them and keep the bucks).

And now, in the wake of the arrests in England, a new wave of rules and prohibitions are about to be foisted on us by TSA -- no liquids or gels in carry on, no electronic devices of any kind, no ipods, no cell-phones, no cameras (some reports are even claiming that books are being banned, though that makes no sense whatsoever to me). You are supposed to put your electronics in your checked baggage, they say. Your UNLOCKED checked baggage, another infuriating rule foisted on us by the TSA. And of course what happens if your electronics are damaged and stolen en route? Why, nothing... the airlines take no responsibility, and TSA won't either. Will TSA start confiscating iPods and cellphones and laptops at the security gates now? Hey, those will certainly bring in a lot more dosh than lighters when they're sold.

I wonder how long this prohibition on electronics will last, and how far it will extend? If this truly includes ALL electronics, it will effectively end my own ability to travel by air. Forget about book tours in the future, forget about seeing me at any con that I cannot drive to. Right now, I am even worried about how I am going to get to worldcon... though LA is close enough so that, if worse comes to worst, I will be able to drive. Obviously, that won't apply next year for Yokahama, if these new rules become permanent.

What's next, I wonder? Anal probes, x-rays, body cavity searches? Have we become such a nation of sheep that we will line up and swallow all this meekly? If so, let's change the words in our national anthem. Instead of "land of the free and home of the brave," maybe "land of the safe and home of the scared" would do.

Comments

( 386 comments — Leave a comment )
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the_chimp_pimp
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:13 pm (UTC)
This kind of thing is all too indicitive of the 'society ruled by fear' tactics that our government has been using all too frequently in recent years...

Disturbing, to say the least.
maryling
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:13 pm (UTC)
Ben Franklin said it best: Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
horsey5588
Aug. 10th, 2006 10:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you. <3
(no subject) - aehallh - Aug. 10th, 2006 10:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiralled - Aug. 11th, 2006 01:29 am (UTC) - Expand
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aserene
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:16 pm (UTC)
I agree with you, I think what is being done isn't going to protect us anymore, than any other solution, it's just going to make people angry. I live in NY and in order to leave a NY airport (any NY airport) You must have a passport, driver's lisences won't get you on a plane anymore, and on top of that they seem to pull anymore between 16 and 30 for pat downs and searches of all luggages. At this point, I think I'd rather drive places, even with gas over 3 bucks.
isis_newton
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:16 pm (UTC)
My first thought when I heard about this today: if I couldn't take a book on a flight I wouldn't go. But I don't think that airlines can afford to maintain this 'maximum level of security' for too long anyhow.

I wonder if it were only to affect transatlantic flights (which was the supposed target which led to this further clamp-down of security) then what percentage of Americans is it going to cause a problem for?


Will we be getting the boat to Amsterdam after all?
werthead
Aug. 11th, 2006 05:39 pm (UTC)
Train?
At least Amsterdam is close enough that we can Eurostar it without too many problems. I'm more worried about Spain in September. 10-12 hours by train or 2 hours by plane, but being bored and not being able to read...hmmm.
(Anonymous)
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:18 pm (UTC)
Electronics
Currently the TSA is only banning liquids and gels as can be seen here: http://www.tsa.gov/press/happenings/threat-change.shtm. Electronics are still allowed in the US. It is just at Heathrow that electronics are banned.

George, you are a phenomenal writer, but please spare me the knee jerk reactions and do your research.
lawdogman
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Electronics
Nice anonymous post.
The point of his post is still the same. A steady loss of freedoms.
Re: Electronics - grrm - Aug. 10th, 2006 09:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
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baine_darkwolf
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:19 pm (UTC)
Hah, about right!
blanchemains
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:19 pm (UTC)
I am sure you don't remember me- but I am the United employee who didn't go back to work for 2 years after 9/11.
Take it from someone who thinks the more security measures, the better: this won't last.

Customers will take it for a while, but as soon as the threat level drops down from orange to yellow, it will be back to business as usual. The airlines are well aware that customers won't tolerate this for very long.

(SO glad I don't work there any more!)
ohilya
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:21 pm (UTC)
Wait wait - *laptops* are being prohibited?

Bloody laptops?

Is there:
a) legislation prohibiting them?
b) official airline policies prohibiting them?

And will someone please explain to me why Swiss army knives are confiscated? I had mine taken from me when departing from Trudeau. And when departing from Logan, had my shoes checked (The chap before me, wearing sandals, was told to remove his footwear as well).

If there isn't any official legislation in any country, and there isn't any official, private airline policy, then why do they persist in acting as if there were, and what arguments may be presented which will let us merry travellers continue along our merry little way?
gamerchick
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:28 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ohilya - Aug. 11th, 2006 07:13 am (UTC) - Expand
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gregmce
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:22 pm (UTC)
I'm genuinely curious to see if there's any sort of spike in AmTrak sales. Don't get me wrong, AmTrak is fairly dreadful but I can only imagine that for things like the DC-NYC-Boston business corridor, businessmen who've been taking the various shuttles might find it easier to just spend the extra time on the train.
grrm
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:38 pm (UTC)
Amtrak
Amtrak may be dreadful compared to European trains like the French TGV or the German ICE, but it is still great compared to what you suffer when you fly these days. The conducters are friendly and helpful, there's food, the seats are large and comfortable... Parris and I take the Acela Express from Boston to NYC every year, and it's always a great trip.

The problem is that our government has failed to support the rail system in the States, so Amtrak has been cutting one route after another for the last thirty years, and now they hardly go anywhere.

If the government had given Amtrak anywhere near the same level of support they have given the airlines, we'd have the best trains in the world.

Of course, it is only a matter of time until someone officious decides we need "security" on the trains as well.
Re: Amtrak - lodessa - Aug. 10th, 2006 10:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Amtrak - ohilya - Aug. 11th, 2006 09:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Amtrak - falseprophet81 - Aug. 10th, 2006 11:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
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smofbabe
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:23 pm (UTC)
And now, in the wake of the arrests in England, a new wave of rules and prohibitions are about to be foisted on us by TSA -- no liquids or gels in carry on, no electronic devices of any kind, no ipods, no cell-phones, no cameras (some reports are even claiming that books are being banned, though that makes no sense whatsoever to me).

Stephen and I are hoping that at the very least, the book restriction will be lifted in a week. The thought of a 16+-hour flight with no books, music, or DVDs has Stephen feeling homicidal. I think the only hope would be tranquilizers and sleeping pills.
coleoptera
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:24 pm (UTC)
If they ban electronics on flights in the US, there better be a full bar available with no (or limited) charge on board.

Someone on my flight from Portland, OR to Atlanta, GA (almost 5 hours) with 3 or 4 kids this week. Can you imagine doing that with no electronic entertainment in this day and age?
tersa
Aug. 10th, 2006 10:03 pm (UTC)
My initial reaction was: the business travellers will never stand for it. And business travellers are the backbone of the airlines bottom line.

Fortunately, the electonic ban hasn't been implemented...yet.
(no subject) - anonymisty - Aug. 13th, 2006 02:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
ravenstromdans
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:25 pm (UTC)
I'm sure it would upset me more if I had anywhere to go; as it is, I already don't much care to leave my home. If I had the money to travel, I would still have to conjure up the inclination and given how paranoid I am, I doubt that would ever happen unless I was forced into it, like I was while in the Service.
redushab
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:28 pm (UTC)
Luckily, they have yet to institute some of those, currently in the US it's just liquids, we'll have to wait and see if this changes.

On the other hand, I am very, very glad that I'm driving to Santa Fe for school this fall, rather than flying. And have no need to fly again until November. With any luck, this will have died down by then.
dalinae
Aug. 11th, 2006 04:00 pm (UTC)
Oh it should die off a bit after the elections. In the US at least.

But they are not going to lower that threat level until every last ballot is counted in November.
sharp_kun
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:29 pm (UTC)
As far as I'm aware the current restrictions here in the UK are temporary. I have no problem with that. Given that a plot seems to have existed, and there may still be members out there I see no problem in cracking down while the police investigate more.

Look at it this way, suppose the airlines carried on as normal and one bomber who hadn't been arrested got through. A lot of people would be asking why security wasn't increased, given the police had ample knowlege of a threat. Is temporary hassle that bad?
grrm
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:41 pm (UTC)
temprary hassles
The problem is, temporary solutions have a way of becoming permanent.

I am old enough to remember when the first airport "security" came in. We were told those were temporary measures too. In that case, "temporary" has turned out to mean "for the rest of your life."
(no subject) - egowumpus - Aug. 16th, 2006 02:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
breadbox
Aug. 10th, 2006 09:31 pm (UTC)
they can take my laptop away from me when they pry it from my cold dead hands...


seriously. i'm buying a freaking boat... screw this airfare buisness.
spiralled
Aug. 11th, 2006 01:37 am (UTC)
I like the way you think.
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