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TSA Opens Blog — You Can Finally Complain 370

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the wretched-hive-of-scum-and-villainy dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The TSA has opened their own blog. According to Ars Technica, it's beginning to attract complaints from people who are sick of removing their shoes and having to forfeit their drinks. 'The blog's first post has 131 comments so far, almost all of which fall into one of two categories: TSA employees who got the internal memo about the blog launch and dropped by to post positive things, and citizens who are really mad about the liquids screening policy.'"
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TSA Opens Blog — You Can Finally Complain

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  • I haven't flown since before 9/11. Unless the TSA cleans up its act, I will never fly again.
    • by bsane (148894) on Friday February 01, 2008 @09:22PM (#22269278)
      I haven't flown since before 9/11. Unless the TSA cleans up its act, I will never fly again.

      Unfortunately that probably fine with them, the more people they can keep from traveling the easier their job gets.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by xaxa (988988)
        It might put off potential tourists from visiting the USA. It's probably not a big deal to most though (at home the tourists will laugh and say "they even made us remove our shoes, and throw away bottles of water! Crazy Americans!" before talking about something more interesting from their holiday. IME, anyway).
        • by davetd02 (212006) on Friday February 01, 2008 @10:03PM (#22269590)
          If you've ever gone through LHR, what I believe is still the busiest connection hub in the world, you still have to throw away all of your liquids and go through a MORE intense screening procedure than in the United States. And that's just to connect from one flight to another; in most cases in the US you don't have to be re-screened between flights!

          That doesn't make Heathrow's policies right, but anybody connecting through there is just as likely to say "those crazy Brits" as "those crazy Americans."
          • by somersault (912633) on Friday February 01, 2008 @11:12PM (#22269976) Homepage Journal
            It's not crazy, just retarded.. (yes I'm a brit). I read an article on the Register by an ex bomb disposal officer who explained that there is no such thing as the fabled hollywood binary liquid explosive. I think there are ternary ones but they would require a lot of preparation on the plane, and probably a gas mask, etc. How they can be so paranoid so as to go to such extreme measures banning all liquids.. meh.. sad. Though I admit that some liquids could be used as fairly effective weapons, chloroform, acid, etc..
            • by suckmysav (763172) <suckmysavNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday February 01, 2008 @11:18PM (#22270008) Journal
              They are not doing it to improve safety, they are doing it to provide the perception of safety.
              • by kimvette (919543)
                . . . or as a distraction while they spend money on security equipment with companies such as Haliburton. If you're a propoganda-believing paranoid you won't be worrying about tax increases and such because you want to "feel safe"
              • by poopdeville (841677) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @12:58AM (#22270536)
                You might be surprised how valuable the perception of safety can be.

                Today, while waiting at a busy bus stop on my way home from work, a deranged looking black Muslim man wearing a large back pack came up, kneeled on the corner, and prayed. It made me realize two things: 1) being a Muslim in the US must be tough, because 2) everybody (including me, unfortunately) went OH SHIT when they saw this.

                In retrospect, I was in no danger the entire time. But my perception of safety was ruined momentarily.
            • by networkBoy (774728) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @02:11AM (#22270838) Homepage Journal
              Red Fuming nitric acid and [cotton balls | Glycerin | coal tar ] qualifies, but because you eliminated the H2SO4 so it's be "binary" you'll have to do a bit of drying first. Cool thing is, *assuming* I could both procure and get through security with Red Nitric, then 3 x 1 Oz containers is vastly more than adequate, especially if I'm using a solid as my secondary so I can use all three bottles for nitric and sulphuric...

              That said, if you want to bring down a plane, it is vastly more effective to simply smuggle some mercury on board (doesn't take much). Make a fake battery (AA) and use a 3 volt lithium AA in place of the other battery, thus two AAs gives you three volts and proper operation of the device (cheap digicam, flashlight, vibrator, whatever). Once in flight, open the fake battery and hold the plane hostage.

              Even more effective: grab a fire extinguisher while in flight. hit people with it, bash in the cockpit door with it.
              Or decompress the plane by bashing out windows.
              Or take Krav Maga (sp?) or some other suitable "hostile" martial art.
              Or claim to have a bomb even though you don't (still will terrify the plane).
              Or smuggle a gun in.
              Or Smuggle a knife in.
              Or use some JB weld, a magazine, and a metal spoon (need a handle after all) and make a knife.
              Or rupture all those butane lighters you bought after security in the concourse and make a fuel air bomb in the lav.
              Etc.
              Etc.

              Point is that there are a million ways to take down a plane, or terrorize a plane, what have you. Almost all of them are simpler than a binary explosive.
              -nB
          • In Germany the summer after 9/11, to just to board the flight they had 3 metal detectors and hand scanned everyone. Talk about redundancy.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by iminplaya (723125)
          It might put off potential tourists from visiting the USA.

          But the falling dollar keeps 'em coming.
    • Complete and total capitulation. B'God, *that'll* make 'em think twice before tangling with you again!
    • by xeoron (639412)
      You still can if you are careful where you travel to and from, since the TSA does not screen for all airports in the country. There are a lot of minor airports or airport direct flights that do not require screening at all.
  • Comments (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Friday February 01, 2008 @09:20PM (#22269252)
    I can imagine that the comments feature will soon be disabled.

    • Re:Comments (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rob1980 (941751) on Friday February 01, 2008 @09:28PM (#22269312)
      Or heavily moderated.
      • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Friday February 01, 2008 @09:38PM (#22269410) Homepage Journal
        ...and they will listen.
      • Re:Comments (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Brickwall (985910) on Friday February 01, 2008 @10:23PM (#22269708)
        This isn't insightful; it's ignorant. I just visited the blog, and they make it clear that they won't post profanity or abuse, but they'll let just about anything else go through. I went through the liquids thread, and 99% of the comments were critical from one degree to another of the current policy. No censorship there that I could see. Hundreds of people pointed out the idiocy of allowing up to 10 bottles in your "baggy", all 10 of which could ostensibly be carrying 3 oz of some explosive, which you could then combine on the plane. Or, you carry a bunch in your baggy, and your accomplice carries some in his baggy, and you meet up on the plane to combine them.

        And, of course, water. I suggested that the simple solution is for the agent to request that you drink some of the water, and then the agent sniff the bottle. If anyone here knows of a colourless, odourless explosive you can safely drink, I'd like to be apprised of it. They posted my comment unedited.

        Why don't you bother to check it out before making such an uninformed comment? Oh, right, this is /.

        • Re:Comments (Score:5, Insightful)

          by arth1 (260657) on Friday February 01, 2008 @10:56PM (#22269892) Homepage Journal

          No censorship there that I could see.

          That's the idea of censorship...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by xstonedogx (814876)
          I suggested that the simple solution is for the agent to request that you drink some of the water, and then the agent sniff the bottle. If anyone here knows of a colourless, odourless explosive you can safely drink, I'd like to be apprised of it.

          What is the purpose of drinking the water?

          Anyone who is willing to blow themselves up on an airplane thinking they will receive 108 virgins is surely willing to suffer an hour worth of discomfort before the flight or a trip to vomit in the bathroom.
  • Fingers crossed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chairboy (88841) on Friday February 01, 2008 @09:22PM (#22269272) Homepage
    There are some serious problems with how the TSA is doing things, and this is a great step towards communicating some of them. ...if we, as the public, can keep our act together long enough to avoid dropping shrill, screeching, hate bombs of ranting incoherence on this website that'll convince the TSA that there's nothing of value to be gained from this conduit. Each "YOU GUYS ARE FASCIST NAZI LICKING THUGS!" message cancels out the positive effects of any five or ten polite & firm, well reasoned messages describing weaknesses and suggesting positive change.

    Unfortunately, I'm guessing this restraint won't be evident.
    • Re:Fingers crossed (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2008 @09:32PM (#22269350)
      I am absolutely amazed and impressed that the TSA has opened their own blog to finally try and explain and educate their 'angry customers'.

      In fact it is such a good thing, I can't believe they thought of it themselves.

      Has this got anything to do with Bruce Schneier's interview [schneier.com] with the TSA head, Kip Hawley?

      Regardless of what people think about the TSA, this move is to be applauded. I hope it expands even further into other areas of government.
    • Re:Fingers crossed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday February 01, 2008 @09:38PM (#22269406)

      cancels out the positive effects of any five or ten polite & firm, well reasoned messages describing weaknesses and suggesting positive change.
      What effect might that be? The TSA is the Theatrical Security Agency - any blog they put up is just more theater. Nothing that might change their focus from theater to actual security will come about from something as trivial as a blog because looking effective is their job, not being effective.
    • Re:Fingers crossed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sootman (158191) on Friday February 01, 2008 @10:48PM (#22269848) Homepage Journal
      Each "YOU GUYS ARE FASCIST NAZI LICKING THUGS!" message cancels out the positive effects of any five or ten polite & firm, well reasoned messages describing weaknesses and suggesting positive change.

      There are already plenty of high-level, high-profile, already-accepted-as-smart people saying how completely fucked up TSA is, and TSA isn't listening to them, so why would they listen to us no matter how polite we are? Maybe it would be a good thing for them to hear how much every man-in-the-street hates them too. A lot of things come down to popularity, and an unpopular agency might have some serious problems staying around. And what will gain more press: a blog with a few well-reasoned comments or one packed with vitriol? Remember, there has never been a story on the news that said "3 million people in enjoyed a nice quiet night at home yesterday." I would love to see a story on the 11:00 news that say "Agency posts blog; 99% of comments all say what assholes they are." That would just make more people aware of how fucked up TSA is and maybe eventually lead to some change.

      So yeah, go ahead and post some choice Bruce Schneier quotes if you want. But if you don't want to do that, FLAME ON!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2008 @09:25PM (#22269296)
    Blown up? Maybe. Hijacked? NO! Why? Because we know the rules have changed. In the pre-9/11 days, people were told to cooperate with hijackers, because if they did, there was a good chance they'd get out of it alive. Now, we know that the hijackers are willing to kill us all as they use the plane as a weapon, and thus, we have nothing to lose by fighting back. Once the passengers of United 93 learned what had happened to the other plans, they realized this, and they fought back. There will never be another attack in the style of 9/11, and it's not because of the TSA or Homeland Security. It's because we know better.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2008 @09:36PM (#22269386)
    that this is just a clever move to find people that disagree with them and put them on the no-fly list.

    (Anonymous for obvious reasons, I like flying)
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)
      I'm already on the no fly list. Or more accurately, my NAME is on the no fly list. Come on, post as yourself and join the club!

      Besides that, they already know who you are.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by LandDolphin (1202876)
      You think your Anonymous till Homeland Security asks Slashdot for your IP address.
  • Honeypot (Score:4, Funny)

    by oldhack (1037484) on Friday February 01, 2008 @09:37PM (#22269396)
    Why chase them? Let them come to you...
  • This is what they'll do, at the most. They'll read the comments, take a few minor suggestions that are about as a substantive of a reform as a changing the paint on the wall from beige to white, and call it even. Then everyone in power will trumpet how the system works, the people were heard, and how America is still the greatest country on the face of the Earth.

    In the end, we'll end up with an agency that can best be described as being filled primarily by the sort of people that routinely get rejected by l
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)
      The first time I flew after 9/11, I wondered if the National Guardsmen with M16's were really planning on shooting anything. I was checked for explosive residue once, and my bag was searched, but I didn't think they did a very good job. The M16's were intimidating, in an off putting way. The other stuff seemed crazy.

      The second time I flew after 9/11, I was somewhat amused that I had to take my shoes off but didn't even really notice the TSA people. Sure, they were there putting on their serious act, but the
    • by qw0ntum (831414) on Friday February 01, 2008 @10:18PM (#22269676) Journal
      First, the parent needs to be modded troll. Lay off the stereotypes, will ya?

      Second, it's kind of silly for you to state that you've only flown ONCE in the past 6-7 years, and then proceed to make comments about the entire TSA. I, for instance, fly three or four times a year, including a couple international trips. My experience with the screeners has been generally positive. Usually they are quite cordial, though I have run into a few unfriendly ones. I've only been taken aside for extra screening once - and I'm an Arab with a beard.

      Since 9/11, I've flown through CDG. The security there was rude and somewhat intimidating. Since 9/11, I've flown through ATL, Sea-Tac, JFK, a bunch of regional airports. The TSA folks at the smaller airports are actually quite nice people. I've seen a lot of improvement in their operation over the past few years as well in terms of getting people through quickly and clearly explaining what will be expected of people. I don't mind having to take off my shoes, and having to keep my liquids in a plastic bag helps me pack lighter. Make the best of it; it's not that bad.

      I've been through Israeli security as well. You try being an Arab crossing that border when the IDF soldier at passport control is having a bad day, and you'll never complain about the TSA again! :)
      • by metlin (258108) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @01:52AM (#22270772) Journal
        Eh.

        The man who has flown three or four times a year mocks the man who's flown once in a few years. Nice.

        I fly regularly - and when I mean regularly, I mean twice a week. I'm a consultant and I fly out every Monday and fly back every Thursday. Sometimes, I fly more.

        And let me tell you that TSA is a bloody joke. The people who handle things look like the kind of people who wouldn't be able to get a minimum wage job at the local Walmart.

        You don't mind having to take off your shoes or carrying liquids because - oh wait - you fly 3 or 4 times a year. When you have to fly every other day, it gets old. And oh yeah, the luggage handling is just wonderful. So, every damn time, I have to check in my luggage so that I can take my toiletries with me and risk losing my luggage to who-knows-where.

        And oh, just today, I flew out of O'Hare. The idiots there wanted to know why I had two laptops. Because it's my damn job, and it's none of their business. But no, good luck explaining to them.

        Take off my shoes? Wonderful. When you get an athlete's foot infection every two months, let me know how it goes.

        And I am of east-Indian descent - good luck being a brown man and flying out twice or four times a week. Your probability of meeting those jerks (the "rude" and "intimidating" ones that you spoke of) just shot up. And guess what? I can tell you right now that at least half of TSA is full of arrogant, racist losers who shouldn't be allowed a job, let alone one handling security.

        We've a system where you can't even transport a bottle of wine safely. The one time I tried checking in some wine, the wonderful TSA opened my bags, checked out the bottles of wine, didn't repack them the way they were packed and left a note saying that they were snooping around. And oh, I opened my luggage to find brilliant red wine all over my clothes. It's a wonderful feeling, let me tell you. What is this, stone age?

        And guess what? Most of the people who travel regularly do so on business. And they do it often. After some time, it just gets old, annoying and plain ridiculous.

        I've been through Israeli security as well. You try being an Arab crossing that border when the IDF soldier at passport control is having a bad day, and you'll never complain about the TSA again! :)
        That's because Israel faces *real* terrorist threats on a daily basis - not a once in a blue moon thing that's used as an excuse to have people do stupid things, and make a mockery of security in the name of safety.

        Maybe you should try traveling a little more often and see what that does to your wonderful feeling of "make the best of it, it's not that bad."

        (An irritated frequent flyer)
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Rob the Bold (788862)

          Take off my shoes? Wonderful. When you get an athlete's foot infection every two months, let me know how it goes.

          Or worse. When that fungus gets in and under the tonenails, it's not just Lotramin time. No. You have to see the doctor and get a sample of tonenail sent to the toenail lab to confirm that your spongified nails aren't normal just to get insurance (if you have it) to cover the $200-$600/month, 2-6 month course of drug treatment needed to clear that up.

          As a medical student, my wife has had t

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blitz487 (606553)

      This is what they'll do, at the most. They'll read the comments, take a few minor suggestions that are about as a substantive of a reform as a changing the paint on the wall from beige to white, and call it even. Then everyone in power will trumpet how the system works, the people were heard, and how America is still the greatest country on the face of the Earth.
      In the end, we'll end up with an agency that can best be described as being filled primarily by the sort of people that routinely get rejected by local police agencies, affirmative action hires, etc.

      And somehow government run universal healthcare will sidestep this and be a marvel of efficiency and customer service.

  • instead of repeating the instructions over and over again, put up a sign.

    Why do they keep saying "please have your boarding pass in your hand when you go through the metal detector" over and over again? Just put a sign on the metal detector.

    Of course, when I see how incompetent they are at passing on a simple instruction like that I know they are there to do nothing but make idiots "feel safe".
    • by geekoid (135745)
      Because people don't read signs. How many people need to be told that and still don't have it ready?

      I ahve problems with TSA and this alleged higher level of security, but repeating that is probably one of the best things they do.

    • by Itninja (937614)
      Because millions of people that fly cannot read English, even if they can speak and understand it. Just like I can converse in limited Arabic, but still cannot read it worth a darn. And having massively multi-lingual signs would be counterproductive. It's just more efficient to continuously repeat the instruction verbally.
      • by meatspray (59961)
        Meh, by that standard, nothing in the airport should be labeled.

        If 50% of the people in a given place would benefit from the sign, put it up, make it big and clear.

        BWI has one, but it's rather innocuous. When I get on the plane, they try to train me 7 ways to Sunday on how to crash. When you're hopping from airport to airport it's hard to tell where the damn lines start and end.

        In MIA you carry your check bags to a tsa screener and then get in line, I've been through San Antonio a couple of times and they
  • People posted tons of obvious changes for the TSA to "consider"... but I'd assume that if these silly and obvious issues haven't been changed yet while most at the TSA must have already been aware, then hearing that it pisses off a few hundred other people probably isn't going to cause any extra pressure to change.
  • by Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) on Friday February 01, 2008 @10:03PM (#22269586)
    How much liberty does the TSA have with the screening that takes place? Surely it was either mandated by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act or is a reaction to perceived threats since, real or otherwise?

    In the same way that a local police chief can't decide what the state speed limit is (although he might decide how anally to enforce it), I can't believe that the head of the TSA has a lot of freedom when it comes to screening:

    Richard Reid? Off come the shoes.
    Alleged binary liquid plot? No bottled water onboard for you.

    It seems (from a perspective from across the sea) entirely reactive, and a result of the current political climate. That's not to say that US airport security wasn't atrociously lax pre-2001, it was; but things aren't going to become any easier until something rather more dramatic occurs than an official in a government agency starting a blog.
    • The bottom line is that the TSA's changes are all about making the public feel like the government is doing something to make air travel safer. It's all about the politics of perceptions and not at all about actually making travel safer. Unfortunately, as the comments on the blog demonstrate, a lot of people have already seen through their bullshit, which means they've done little to even improve the perception of safety.
  • Long story short (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arthur B. (806360) on Friday February 01, 2008 @10:18PM (#22269680)
    The government has no business performing security checks on passengers.

    If passengers wish secure flights, the airlines will provide security checks, different airlines might even offer different security levels to cater from the person in a rush to the paranoid.

    What if someday, I went to the doorstep of a DHS officer and start requiring every one entering, including his friends and family to strip naked, out of security concern for him. What if, even worst, I decided to charge the service to him, by threatening to put him in jail if he doesn't pay for the service or comply with the security checks. Hey I'd be arrested.

    The government is doing the exact same thing and guess what : they're just a bunch of people. They are not different from other people. Just because they're elected by a majority and have a nice nametag saying "Hi, I'm from the government" doesn't really give them super-moral powers. If a normal person is not allowed to do something, there's no reason people from the government should.

    With a monopoly on law enforcement, it is natural that the quality of enforcement lowers and the price rises. I mean... if everyone is forced to buy your security services, you're going to charge for anything. Hey why not protect people from nail clippers in airplanes ! Good !
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geek (5680)
      They aren't policing the planes. They are policing the SKIES and the potential threat of them dropping on my head. I could care less about the guy in a hurry taking a cheap flight with no security checks, I do however care about the cheap guy landing in my backyard on my family during a BBQ.
  • by Killer Eye (3711) on Friday February 01, 2008 @10:47PM (#22269838)
    If you actually read the intros and responses written by the TSA blog maintainers, it does seem (to their credit) fairly sensible and honest so far; so it has a decent shot at being effective. Yes, it's moderated, but not in a draconian way: they're trying to keep things as written, throwing away only the obvious personal attacks or things rife with ads, etc.
  • by alteran (70039) on Friday February 01, 2008 @11:04PM (#22269942)
    The categories are actually:

    1) TSA employees who got the internal memo about the blog launch and dropped by to post positive things, and citizens who are really mad about the liquids screening policy and
    2) people about to added to the no-fly list.

  • From the top of the TSA blog,

    Questions We Hear Everyday
    They apparently don't edit every day. Good think they are not in charge of seeing details... oh wait.
  • Bomb disposal (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hektor_Troy (262592) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @07:57AM (#22271958)
    Someone should inform the TSA of proper bomb disposal procedures.

    They prevent you taking a bottle of liquid with you onto the plane, due to the idea that it might be an explosive. And then dump it in a bag next to their checkpoint.

    What they SHOULD be doing is call in the bomb squad, set up a big safety area around the bottle and toss whomever brought that bottle to the checkpoint in jail for a few days for disrupting public security.

    After all, if you really suspect that it's an explosive, isn't that what YOU would do? Imagine that it was a stick of dynamite instead - would you just toss it in a plastic bag next to your workstation?
  • I heard this from an ex-military guy.

    "The only thing you need to hijack a plane is a heart of stone and a baby (which almost every plane seems to have). You pick up the baby, and break a finger on the baby, and say either we're going where i want or I break another one. Guaranteed reroute of plane because no one likes hurt/screaming babies, and no baby screams more than one with a broken finger. No one can tackle and hogtie you because then you drop the baby."

    How does bag screening, no liquids, shoe checks, etc. prevent that from happening?

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