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October 27, 2007

Snitch on yourself to the TSA

The TSA encourages the public to report suspicious activity. When Connor Islip of the Guardian reviewed communications submitted to the Transportation Safety Administration communication center, he was surprised to find how many air travelers wrote in to report their own security slips:

Of the more than 100 communications reviewed, a large plurality consists of citizens who, like the woman from Islip, arrive at their destinations and feel guilty about a security transgression. Few mention other security threats; when they do, they are largely reports on the ethnicity of fellow travellers.

One man called in - on the fifth anniversary of September 11, no less - to report that he "had put two canisters of propane gas" in his luggage. "He had forgotten that the canisters were inside the luggage," writes the TSA officer who took the call. "The consumer discovered the canisters after arriving at [Oakland], his final destination."

Another man got off a plane from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale only to "notice that I had with me three huge bottle rockets and a big firecracker, with some sparklers in the outside pouch" of his carry-on. [Guardian]

I wonder how many of these public-spirited individuals will get stuck on the no-fly list forever.


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I'm going to snitch on you for being half-Canadian. You know I love ya, but I shot a few unarmed Iraqi civilians while in the employ of a certain private contracting outfit, so my shyster told me cut a deal and rat out anyone I could. That's the way the cookie crumbles in Christian conservative America, Linds, especially if you're a dirty atheist half-Canuck. No hard feelings, eh?

To the bureaucratic mind, taking reports and drawing up lists is just evidence to show outsiders that you're actually doing something- and if you can fatten the list with more names, all the better.

Wow. I don't think that these people should be mocked, though in this legalistic gotcha society I suppose that it is inevitable that they are.

I'd have a really hard time imagining that they'd be punished in any way for coming clean for doing something that they'd never have been caught for. Though this is the government.

I once almost reported the TSA for their own transgression. Reporting for a flight at Cleveland airport, I got my boarding pass from a kiosk ( and thus had never shown ID ) and then went through security, where, though my bags were x-rayed, no one looked at the NY Drivers License (which, soon, thanks to Gov Spitzer will mean nothing ) and the boarding pass.

I was amazed....I could have been anybody.

Ninety nine percent of the security we see is just for show.

But, yes, I applaud those citizens who are highlighting flaws in the system. They're smart, and they're doing the right thing, and more people should have the character to do the same thing.

Of course, you won't ever have to do so if you're not the type of idiot who puts propane tanks in luggage, but thats another story.

This could turn out to be a sort of traveler's Darwinism. If you're stupid enough to do this, stupid enough to tell the government how stupid you are and stupid enough to tell the government they were stupid for not catching being so stupid, perhaps you should be on a no-fly list. I for one would not want to get on a plane with these people.

I've never been addled enough to have committed such a "security slip." One time I came very close but the circumstances were so preposterous that I had no chance to make it through screening. Near the end of an exhausting cross-country tour I was asked to bring the road manager's tool kit ahead to the next city. Yep, I put a bag full of pliers, clippers, screwdrivers and blades into the X-ray machine. Needless to say I had to check the bag rather than bring it on board as carry-on.

Now if I had been able to bring sharp and/or flammable toys on board in my carry-on luggage, I probably wouldn't narc on myself to the TSA. If I did, I call from a pay phone and withhold my name.


I've taken things through security that damn well should have been picked up. The most egregious was a prototype of a device my company is developing that just happens to look almost exactly like a detonator. I'd forgotten I was carrying it and didn't discover my mistake until after going to a conference and returning (i.e. two passes through "security"). It's what Bruce Schneier refers to as Security Theater.

And yet they confiscated my foot cream, togolosh. I was a bad boy. Dried, cracked feet are a threat to the homeland, apparently. Should I go to the doctor for this, or to Gitmo?

well, more randomness. Random story about airport security, followed with nonsensical random commentary. Professor B, just why do you have a blog? and why not get rid of the ridiculous homage to your dear ole dead dad. The NYT doesn't maintain a special page for the publisher's dead relatives. It's just pathetic.

It seems pretty amazing that after six years of official national terrorism heebee-jeebees, they could miss a couple of propane bottles. But then going through customs a few weeks ago in NYC's Kennedy Airport, I was quite astonished to see that they're clearly understaffed for the task they're supposed to handle. After all the terror talk and they can't get it together in NYC of all places?

Milo, do try to find an adult to take you under his/her wing.

OK, maybe my comment was a bit harsh. But really, it is a bit self-indulgent.

Milo, homages to one's dear old dad can be a very lovely thing. Homages to one's own brilliance, on the other hand, can almost always accurately be described as both 'pathetic' and 'self-indulgent', not to mention extremely unconvincing.

Harsh is an understatement. Vicious hurtful insult is more like it. I think it is sweet, thoughtful, poignant and perfectly appropriate for Lindsay to pay tribute to her father. It is a kind of distillation as to why I visit this blog.

Thankfully Majikthise is not the NYT. If you don't like this blog and have nothing constructive to add to our discourse, you don't have to come here. Feel free to start your own blog specializing in misdirected animosity.



Could you please shut the fuck up.

Randomness in a blog is, for me, the entire point. Single focus websites are OK for some, but for the most part are drop dead boring.

A blog should fit the interests and the whimsy of the proprietor. And those who find it interesting can then read and/or participate in the discussion.

If you keep coming back to a place that never pleases you , what does it say about you? There are a countless other ones out there-find one you like, and stop bothering people.

Jesus Christ, milorad, what the fuck is wrong with you? Lindsay's dad passed away only a 2 or 3 months ago. Do you not think you're remark is incredibly mean? Have you lost a parent? If so, do you think if you fondly mentioned something about your deceased parent to someone only 2 or 3 months after his death, and he or she in turn said something like "Come on, just let it go already. You're being ridiculous!", how would you feel?

Fuck off already, asswipe.

John Lucid

Well said. I was going to say something on that point, but chose not to, as I felt so strongly on this point that I might have said something I should not have.

You said it perfectly.

Thanks, Phantom. I try not to write like that, but milorad went WAY beyond the pale. He deserved no quarter, IMHO.

Ah, once again "the sociopath next door" raises his ugly little head, this time taking on the form of one "milorad."

Petty, mean-spirited, and bored, they roam the world looking for decent people to bother with their tyrany-in-miniature.

They just have nothing better to do. Fuckheads.

I bet a nickle he comes back seeking sympathy. They always do.

pointless nastiness points to the pointer. Ralph [for those of you unfortunate enough to get him to comment on your blog] has about even money on him for being a spoof but this milorad thing looks unspoofy. There is mean and low and then there are behaviors way below that. Dubious accomplishment milorad. With champions like you milorad, is it any wonder most of us think the department of fatherland security would be a better name for that waste of money?

Phantom -

no one looked at the NY Drivers License (which, soon, thanks to Gov Spitzer will mean nothing )

They mean nothing now - driver's licenses are way too easy to fake with a few hundred dollars worth of equipment. And using a fake driver's license as ID in an "out-of-state" situation makes it even easier - people tend to not notice weird tics with the license if it isn't from their state.

Now, if TSA actually used a database of license numbers and cross referenced the licenses they were given with the database to see if that license actually existed, they would begin to approach the level of a valid security measure. Or if we had some kind of standard "national ID" with its own database to check against. As it stands identity checks via driver's licenses are a sop to passengers - something visible to show them that TSA is doing SOMETHING to keep things secure - and not a real security measure. Just like the "no fly list" - something that has little chance of actually stopping a real terrorist, but gives a measure of comfort to folks flying (as long as they don't think too carefully about how much nonsense it all is).

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