Posts Tagged ‘tsa’

Air Marshals: our ridiculously expensive clowns in the sky

March 1st, 2012 3 comments

I just caught Congressman John Duncan’s recent speech about domestic anti-terrorism spending on YouTube (or if you prefer, you can read the transcript on Duncan’s website). His comments are right on the mark, and it is refreshing to see somebody in our government standing up to speak out against the “security at any cost” mindset that has gripped America.

I was especially intrigued by Duncan’s rant against the TSA’s Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) program. Duncan claimed that a USA Today report asserted that more air marshals have been arrested than the total number of arrests made by air marshals (I was able to locate the article here). Considering that taxpayers are putting up nearly $1 billion every year to pay for the FAMS program, it doesn’t sound like we’re getting a very good deal.

I read some more and discovered that Congressman Duncan has been on a crusade against air marshals for awhile now. In 2009, he delivered a speech on the House floor criticizing the FAMS program for being “useless” and wasteful. Reading his speech, I was shocked to learn that while we have about 4,000 air marshals in service, the entire organization manages to average only 4.2 arrests per year.

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TSA claims teen’s purse design is a federal offense

January 11th, 2012 Comments off
A purse or a threat?

A purse, to most of us. To the TSA, a replica weapon and federal offense.

A 17-year-old pregnant Florida teen found herself in hot water with the fashion police TSA last month over the design on her purse.

TSA agents stopped Vanessa Gibbs in Virginia when they noticed that her purse had an antique-style western revolver emblem on it. An agent told Gibbs that the purse was “a federal offense because (the emblem) is in the shape of a gun”. Gibbs was detained while the TSA determined that the purse-gun wasn’t real and posed no threat. Even so, Gibbs wasn’t permitted to take the purse with her, and the TSA investigation took long enough that she missed her flight.

An image of Gibb’s purse is posted so you can see what all of the fuss was about. The gun design is clearly just a few inches in size.

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Categories: General Idiocy Tags: ,

Cupcakes of mass destruction confiscated by TSA

December 29th, 2011 Comments off
Explosively delicious!

Explosively delicious!

A woman traveling to Las Vegas violated anti-terrorism regulations when she attempted to board an airplane with a pair of cupcakes this week.

Rebecca Hains was stopped by the TSA and informed that the “gel-like” icing on her delicious baked goods could potentially be used as an explosive, and was forced to surrender them. According to, Hains had no trouble a few days earlier at Logan International airport in Boston, where TSA agents commented that the cupcakes looked delicious. Obviously, TSA agents in Las Vegas didn’t agree.

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Categories: General Idiocy Tags: , ,

TSA anti-terrorism measures more harmful than terrorism itself

December 25th, 2011 Comments off

The holiday season is in full swing, and that likely means travel for many of you. And travel often involves airports. And airports (at least here in the US) demand taking part in the TSA’s wonderful circus of security theater. In many airports, that means there is a good chance you’ll be asked to step through a full-body scanner.

You may have noticed that these same scanners were banned in Europe last month, due to health concerns over the ionizing radiation the machines employ. That might make you think twice about stepping into one, which is a perfectly valid response. However, this post isn’t really about the dangers of TSA backscatter scanners (there are already plenty of those), or whether or not you should opt out of a scan (ditto). I personally don’t believe that the health risk posed by the machines is serious enough that casual travelers need to realistically worry about those issues. Rather, I was more curious about the risk-reward relationship regarding them, and whether placing them in airports around the country made sense purely from a numbers standpoint.

Or, put more simply: is the potential benefit that we’re getting from these scanners in line with the health risk that they present (however small that risk may be)? I mean, surely somebody at the TSA thought about that, right? … Right?

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