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87-Year-Old World War II Veteran Takes On the TSA 218

McGruber writes "Orlando Sentinel columnist Lauren Ritchie has written about how Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints handle her father Sam, an 87-year-old who has a propensity to question authority in a quiet way, and make his target feel stupid. Sam points to the signs that the TSA posts stating that those above the age of 75 don't have to take off their shoes for screening. Maybe the TSA thinks all old people wear floppy tennies, but Sam's favorite pair have metal. So every time Sam goes through the screening, an alarm goes off, and an officer makes him remove his shoes. And every time he feels compelled to test the TSA. Sometimes, Sam spots them a few points by warning them ahead of time that his shoes have metal.... it got to be a ritual for a while, ending with him throwing his hands up and remarking to the TSA person: 'Hey, something's not right here.'"
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87-Year-Old World War II Veteran Takes On the TSA

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  • by philmarcracken ( 1412453 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @08:10AM (#45232655)
    Stuff that mattressssssss
    • Re:News for nerds (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nickserv ( 1974794 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @08:35AM (#45232805)

      This is a non-story.

      TFA says nothing like the guy ever challenged the TSA. It was his daughter he challenged pointing out the sign that people over 75 don't have to take off their shoes. He's just not taking his wallet out for anyone and therefore getting the full search but he doesn't resist or try to engage the TSA. The author / daughter even says he very likely can't hear a word the TSOs say to him. So, exactly how does that qualify as him taking on the TSA?

      Newsflash /. editors, yes we have no love for the TSA but, we're not stupid and don't appreciate totally misleading story titles!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The TSA missed an opportunity here for further insulting the general populous. They could have applied logic and come up with the reasoning that old people have less years to live, therefor less to lose and are therefor are more likely to be a suicide bomber. The logical consequence would be that old people need more and closer inspection. not less.

    • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @08:33AM (#45232787)

      Yeah, but then someone would point out that old people just don't give a shit. It's what makes them so endearing.

      • Yeah, but then someone would point out that old people just don't give a shit. It's what makes them so endearing.

        I am sure they give a shit, watching their nieces and nephews get blown to bits by remote control, from the link []:

        A report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalists has uncovered Pakistani government documents suggesting the civilian death toll from US drone strikes is higher than previously thought. In a three year period 147 people were killed, including 94 children. Adam (@adamsich) takes a look at how many kids have been killed in Pakistan by US drones. See below for sources and extra links.

        So yeah, I'd say old people are just as/more likely to want revenge (i.e a threat) [] as any other age range,,,

  • I almost only read /. for its plethora of TSA stories and comments. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy i'm not the only one who gets love from the TSA. They love me so much that every time I fly, they give me a quick chop to the crotch and all I have to do is refuse the all seeing scanners.
  • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @08:19AM (#45232697)
    Here the headline led me to believe a member of the Greatest Generation was stepping up *again* to defend American freedom. You know, maybe filing a lawsuit or something. But no, TFA is just about the author's father being a passive-aggressive jerk in the airport security line. As if that helps anyone. If all you are accomplishing is to make yourself feel smarter than a TSA screener, you are not accomplishing much at all.
  • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

    Between 87 year olds taking on TSA and 90+ year olds storming the steps of the closed WWII memorial, I feel my rights and liberties are well protected. Well, at least until Social Security and Medicare run out of money then we're screwed.

    • Re: Yea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by O('_')O_Bush ( 1162487 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @08:32AM (#45232779)
      What amazes me is that we have a raging younger generation upset about loss of freedom, but it is the oldest generations that are actually standing up to the system.

      I guess you could count Snowden and Wikileaks as contributions from the tech generations.

      Sign of the times and our culture. I'd certainly support more civil disobedience, as long as it wasn't me... and I feel that is why big brother is still doing what they are.
      • Blindly following the rules doesn't seem like standing up to the system.

        He doesn't take his shoes off because the sign says he doesn't have too even though he must know that his shoes will set of the metal detector he is about to walk through. So he blindly obeys the commands on the sign - "yes sir, how high sir".

        He then consents to the more thorough search without raising any complaints - civil obedience if anything.

      • Re: Yea (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Pete (big-pete) ( 253496 ) * <> on Friday October 25, 2013 @09:52AM (#45233461)

        I do my part, as a European I actively boycott travel to the USA. There have been several opportunities for both myself and others to take trips to the USA, and I have proposed and worked with alternative plans every time. It's not a lot, but it's what I can do.

        As long as the USA has insane paranoid immigration policies and the TSA I will not travel there, and neither will my immediate family. (I did go to Miami many years ago for a conference, but that was back when things were still sensible)

        "Visa Waiver" my ass, that's just a visa-lite. If I need to apply to enter, they can forget it. The last countries I needed to request a visa to enter were Mauritania, Mali, and Burkina Faso, and as far as I could tell that was just a glorified way of squeezing extra cash out of visitors - and at least they didn't demand fingerprints and invasive grilling by border-guards. Mauritania border guards just wanted a small cash donation, and the others were happy with a ballpoint pen, an apple (he actually wanted sweets, but all we had was fruit) and an empty fuel-canister.

        -- Pete.

      • by Ogive17 ( 691899 )
        Let's be honest with ourselves, that generation doesn't have much to lose at this point. Who wants to be the guy that puts a WWII vet in jail for stupid shit like this? An elected official's career would be over at that point.

        I'm 34 with a wonderful family and a good job. No one is going to care when they throw me in jail and charge me with a few lame charges.. and that will follow me around for the rest of my life. Even if the charges are dropped, they'd be associated with my name via the internet.
        • That's the fun thing, no matter how bad things will get, you'll always have too much to lose. As long as you have a family and a job that is even just barely good enough to get by, you'll never stick your neck out.
  • What's the "news"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fatphil ( 181876 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @08:20AM (#45232703) Homepage
    Am I right in thinking that whole jabbering mess could be condensed to "my deaf relative annoys TSA people in airports"?
    • The article reads like it was written by a 13 year old with a fuzzy idea for an "interesting" story...

      She could have at least detailed *what* the man said to make them feel stupid, it would have at least been humorous.

      • by hduff ( 570443 )

        The article reads like it was written by a 13 year old with a fuzzy idea for an "interesting" story...

        She could have at least detailed *what* the man said to make them feel stupid, it would have at least been humorous.

        I think it was -her- that actually felt stupid. Any dad worthy of the name can do that to his kid.

  • by Drewdad ( 1738014 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @08:22AM (#45232713)

    Poor schlub is just trying to take home a paycheck. He (or she) did not make the stupid rules; she (or he) just has smell feet all day.

    Take the TSA to court, or send letters to your congresscritter, or something. Don't make life more miserable for the privates.

    (Did I mention that the TSA is just a depression-era jobs program wrapped up in patriotism and fear?)

    • Shaddup and get off my lawn you whippersnapper!

    • Irony is these are the guys who were dodging bullets from Germans who were "just following orders" too.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Poor schlub is just trying to take home a paycheck. He (or she) did not make the stupid rules; she (or he) just has smell feet all day.

      People who mindlessly go along with abusive authoritarianism are part of the problem. Maybe not the largest part, but they do hold some of the responsibility for the problem.

      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        People who mindlessly go along with abusive authoritarianism are part of the problem. Maybe not the largest part, but they do hold some of the responsibility for the problem.

        Damn right. I'll take it further though.

        People who go along to get along in the face of tyranny just make me sad. People who think tyranny is just fine are another thing entirely. They make me violently ill. They are true scum.

    • by pngwen ( 72492 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @08:38AM (#45232821) Journal

      They did willingly sign up to work for the TSA. They have also witnessed and participated in violations of American's rights, and they remain at their posts. Therefore they are culpable as traitors to the cause of liberty. Should justice ever prevail, their heads will line the streets of our free cities!

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        When that process starts, their first line of defense will be "We were just following orders."

    • Poor schlub is just trying to take home a paycheck. He (or she) did not make the stupid rules; she (or he) just has smell feet all day.

      "Just following orders" is not a valid excuse for violating people's freedoms and the constitution.

    • If they were just following orders, then they shouldn't have expected him to take his shoes off. It's what their own signs said.

  • Big deal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @08:23AM (#45232723) Homepage Journal

    Cranky old man causes shit in lineups. News at 11.

    WTF is this doing on Slashdot?

  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @08:29AM (#45232765)

    People don't like having pointed out the logical inconsistencies of the way the do things, and it has a tendency to piss them off. This is not limited to TSA personnel. However the consequences of pissing off certain people (especially those who hold power over you) is something that you need to take into consideration before you do so.

  • by Chelloveck ( 14643 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @08:45AM (#45232867) Homepage

    I'm all for baiting the TSA. Most of their security measures are just plain ridiculous. I swear that after the shoe bomber got them to make us take off our shoes, the underwear bomber was sent in to see if they'd strip search us. (And they responded with backscatter scanners. Discuss.)

    But, applying the same security measures to everyone -- old, young, crippled, whatever -- is not among their failings. That's the only part of what they do that makes sense. Once you declare a "safe" class of passengers who get waved through the searches, you're tempting The Bad Guys to enlist members of that class. Do 90 year old guys get a pass? I'm sure The Bad Guys can find some disgruntled nonagenarian to stuff some C4 down his pants or carry the dreaded 3.1 ounces of liquid explosive. The only way security searches work is if they're applied to everyone.

    Of course, the TSA can't even get that right. They introduced their Pre-Check program which reduces the checks to pre-9/11 levels for pre-approved travelers. So how hard would it be to recruit some guy who qualifies for the Pre-Check lane to be the bomb mule?

    Psssst! Hey Bad Guys! Want to cripple air travel in the US? Just bomb a couple airport security checkpoints. Lots of people, tightly packed together, all standing in a nice line, and no chance of being discovered early. Hit a couple of those and we'll shit ourselves trying to figure out how to strip-search passengers without causing big, vulnerable holding areas. It's a pretty damned obvious target. The fact that it hasn't happened in the past 12 years is the best evidence that there really isn't a legion of Bad Guys out there just waiting for the chance to attack. They've had the chance. We've gift-wrapped it for them. Now let's just admit that the bogeyman is mostly in our imaginations.

    • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      or carry the dreaded 3.1 ounces of liquid explosive.

      3.1 ounces of liquid explosives actually is fine. It's when you cross the 3.4 ounces that they have a problem with it.

    • I swear that after the shoe bomber got them to make us take off our shoes, the underwear bomber was sent in to see if they'd strip search us. (And they responded with backscatter scanners. Discuss.)

      Yeah, there were even people who predicted that this would happen [].

    • by jasenj1 ( 575309 )

      I suggest Denver. Huge open area where people are herded into a giant square of snaking lines. And the queue of people is separated from the totally uncontrolled space by a few flimsy mobile walls.

      It's a ridiculously soft target. To think that any real terrorist would risk getting on a plane rather than hit the juicy target the security screening line presents is stupid.

    • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @10:17AM (#45233753) Homepage

      Psssst! Hey Bad Guys! Want to cripple air travel in the US? Just bomb a couple airport security checkpoints. Lots of people, tightly packed together, all standing in a nice line, and no chance of being discovered early.

      A thousand times this.

      Pre-911 hijackings weren't a huge issue. You played along, kept your head down, and eventually you'd be released after the hijackers made their statement. It was a huge inconvenience and I'm sure scary at the time, but playing along meant you were safe.

      On 911 passengers played by the pre-911 rules assuming they would just be diverted to Mexico or something. The last plane got word of what happened to the previous 3 and fought back.

      Post-911 security improvements have made another 911 virtually impossible. And by security improvements, I mean locked, reinforced cabin doors. Not TSA "security theater" checks. In addition, passengers won't trust any potential hijacker who says everyone will live if they just stay in their seats. A hijacker will quickly find himself outnumbered 30-1 by people who are facing death if they don't take him down and who, unlike the hijacker, don't want to die.

      This isn't to say that no terrorist will ever bring a plane down again. Just that it will be extremely difficult for them to do so. They can get more bang for their buck (pun intended) by switching to other targets. Crowded airport security lines in major airports. (A few of these hit at the same time will ground all flights.) Crowded malls during the Christmas rush. Big sports events. These would all cause a lot of chaos and would be more likely to succeed than an airplane attack.

      Of course, even then terrorism would be rare in the US. Look at the number of people who have died from terrorist attacks in the US over the last 15 years. Going by Wikipedia [], that's about 3,038. This is only 203 people per year. If we don't count 9-11 (as it is obviously not a normal occurrence given the death tolls of the other terrorist attacks), we're down to 3 people per year. More people die from nut allergies each year (about 150) and I don't see us declaring a War on Nuts.

      This terrorism-paranoia is ridiculous. We need to stay alert, yes, but we don't need to give up our freedoms to ensure our safety.

      • I don't see us declaring a War on Nuts.

        Thank god or else /. Would be high on the target list...

      • More people die from nut allergies each year (about 150) and I don't see us declaring a War on Nuts

        Tried to pack a kid's lunch lately? Or held a birthday party? Or baked anything for a bake sale?

        Nuts are the new communism party. "Are you or have you even been in contact with nuts?"

        • by sconeu ( 64226 )

          I'd like to address this, as I have personal experience.

          First of all, nut allergies are not caused by crazy overprotective parents (yes, I know he didn't say that, but it was kind of implied). When our daughter was 4, she ate some pecan turtles, and swelled up like a balloon. We took her to the doctor who tested her and said, "Nut allergy".

          Second, nut allergies can be deadly. Anaphlactic shock can kill someone fairly quickly.

          Third, I never tried to regulate what other kids brought to school for *their*

      • "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." -- some old guy nobody remembers these days.

    • If you're going to apply it universally, then you really ought to make sure it's something a 90-year old can handle. Taking off shoes and putting them back on isn't exactly always easy at 90. They should be ready to offer an effective alternative anyway.

      • My only argument is that *if* the security measures are actually effective they need to be applied to everyone. Perhaps they could give the elderly assistance removing their shoes, putting them back on, or whatever. But if removing one's shoes is important enough to require it of most people, it's important enough to not make a known gaping security hole by allowing a class of people to skip it.

        I don't claim there's any benefit at all in removing one's shoes. Quite the opposite, I think that allowing the

        • Or, removing the shoes is just faster than any alternative. The alternative could be effective but slow. If they're not actually taking an alternative inspection when someone can't remove their shoes, then that's the real issue.

  • Old guy with nothing better do harasses TSA agents over loophole, wasting the time of innocent people trying to catch their planes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sI4shd0rk ( 3402769 )

      wasting the time of innocent people trying to catch their planes.

      Blaming the victim, are we? Who's really wasting everyone's time here (and violating everyone's freedoms)? The government thugs who harass people who simply want to get on a plane, or the innocent people who... simply want to get on a plane. Heaven forbid anyone even do so much as slightly question evil authority figures; that might inconvenience the people in line behind you! Woe is them!

  • It really shouldn't matter what you are. If the metal detector goes off, you have to take off the shoes and every thing else that could cause the alarm. I don't see any reason for exceptions. What's the point of having a metal detector if you're not acting on an alarm...

    You can hate the TSA, but at least they're doing their job.

  • by pholus ( 127383 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @09:06AM (#45233025)

    The guy has a point about his wallet. I "lost" a $10 watch (really nice looking, but a cheap birthday gift from my daughter, bought with her allowance money) on their belt. When I complained, everyone claimed ignorance and with the clock ticking and the line stopped I became aware of one interesting social feature in the security line system design: With the level of inconvencience already high, the impatience of your fellow travellers is a very effective cudgel that the TSA uses as a resource.

    As I tried to plead my case I noticed the uninvolved TSA folks were playing to the crowd with how they talked and their body language -- "look guys, it's THIS guy who is gumming up the works and making you late." And I could certainly feel the love...

    In the end, regardless of the sentimental value it was just a $10 watch. I think the entire affair lasted a bit under a minute and a half, but I knuckled under and the TSA thief won. I sometimes wonder how much of this was anticipated by the thief -- that at some set rate you can just snag an item of not much consequence and let the time pressure work for you...

    Just remember, while you arguably benefit from their services, these people are not actually on your side here (you *are* the suspect after all) and it's not like their uniform implies any particular level of integrity.

  • So that's the asshole ahead of me slowing down the line.
    • No. The only reason the line exists and can be slowed down is the TSA. Blame them fully, especially because he's following their slapdash rules.
  • This has no geek content whatsoever. In order to keep myself from slashing my wrists out of boredom I had to wonder about how hearing aid technology could be improved.

    • News for nerds. Stuff that matters.

      Maybe you don't live here, but I do. It's important to keep up on the state of this mess.

  • The removal of shoes was never about safety and we all know that. It was and continues to be a tool used by the TSA to cow the American public into submission. It is a successful tactic in that the "think of the children" crowd will always side with more and more intrusions all in the name of some vague notion of security. If 9/11 did anything, it turned the U.S. into a nascent police state.
  • by Confused ( 34234 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @10:16AM (#45233747) Homepage

    Those passenger screenings are as we all know a big charade. Here's an anecdote of Munich Airport in Germany - probably the most idiotic airport in Germany I had to travel through.

    While most airports in Germany don't care about cameras, Munich airport has a special fetish for controlling cameras. 2 times out of 3 they want me to take my dSLR out of my Backpack to finger it. Usually they want me to turn it on and look through it, but my friendly offers to take an image to prove it works usually ends it panicky horror. Whatever.

    So I got a little pissed of and decided the next time to take out the battery of the camera. And sure enough they wanted to to search it again and asked me to turn it on. As usual, I turned the Power switch to on, but without battery nothing happened, and handed the camera to the goon. I don't know what he ascertained with his ritual, but after looking through it, he was happy the camera without power is real.

    As at that time I was playing around with long-exposures during daytime, I carried with me an ND1000 filter. This is basically a piece of black glass that lets through only minimal light. It's about as dark as welders glasses or those things you used to observer the sun during an eclipse. In the rather low light at the airport, you don't see anything through that filter. So evil me removed the battery again and screwed that filter on in front the next times I flew out of Munich. Out of about 5 manual checks, here's the breakdown:

    2 checked the camera after the power-up without battery and the black glass in front of the lens the usual way by looking through it and doing their magic ritual. The fact that the camera was dead as a brick and the didn't see anything didn't faze them to hand it back satisfied without comment.

    2 wondered why the didn't see anything and looked if the lens-cap was still on. After they saw that no it isn't on and the front is some kind of glass, they relooked through the camera - without seining anything more - and were happy with the results.

    Only one out if the 5 asked why he can't see anything and when I told him, that this is a special filter for long exposure was also happy to let me pass. Asking to remove it for the check wasn't in his book.

    So 5 out of 5 weren't bothered by the fact that turning the camera on has no visible effect and the same 5 in the end were also happy that they didn't see anything when they looked through the camera.

    What a strange world we live in!

    • To be fair, even with a strong ND filter, it's pretty apparent that you're looking into a reflective prism.


      I've never had that issue in Munich... (for what it's worth).

  • News story came up on the radio a couple of days ago while I was getting ready to enter the rat race. The interviewee was complaining about how Americans are so-o-o un-stylish when they travel -- wearing sweats and flip flops -- while the Italians, on the other hand, wear expensive suits and look so snazzy. And I thought: Let's see how long those Italians continue to wear their fancy suits while traveling when they start having to take off half their clothes before getting on the effin' plane.

    If we shut do

    • by squiggleslash ( 241428 ) on Friday October 25, 2013 @02:49PM (#45238253) Homepage Journal

      The real difference is more likely to be that Italians don't have to fly everywhere as they have a functional rail system and a relatively small country. So it's probable that at any one time, most haven't (yet.)

      My experience is that people who "dress up" to fly either have to, because they're flight attendants (or whatever - I feel for you), or they're unfamiliar with flying, how uncomfortable it is, and think it's realistically portrayed in commercials as some kind of high living sorta-good-taste-in-a-Donald-Trump-would-say-its-classy-way activity epytomized by the term "jet set".

      Americans, thanks to the destruction of the rail network in the 1950s and 1960s, really don't have any alternatives, so most Americans have flown at least once, so most Americans know you wear loose or stretchy clothing, comfortable footwear, and leave the uncomfortable suits at home.

      The TSA's security checkpoints really haven't made much difference to anything. I flew in the 1990s. I flew after 9/11. There always were security lines. They're just worse - more invasive, with nastier consequences for being suspicious - than they were then.

  • People like this grew up during the Great Depression and lived through a time when America achieved greatness.

    No wonder they have a low BS tolerance.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser