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18Aug
2004
TSA = "Transportation Security Administration" or "Truly Sloppy Agents"?

I flew out of Detroit this morning. That is something I do quite frequently, so why do I mention it here? Because something odd happened; I was not asked for ID. Really. I even asked "do you need to see ID?", and the TSA screener shook her head no and waved me through. Not that I think that casually checking identification (looking at your license, and then glancing at your face) would actually have any real impact on anything, but it was still odd. After all, the last time I walked on to a flight without having any ID checked anywhere was September 11th, 2001.

And then I landed in Raleigh Durham, North Carolina. There was a long line at one of the checkpoints, and lots of frustrated travelers, too. I saw a TSA agent gesturing to a second agent who was slowly walking towards him to hurry up. She loudly proclaimed "I don't go any faster, I work for the government".

As per the TSAs mission and vision, "The Transportation Security Administration protects the Nation's transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce. The Transportation Security Administration will continuously set the standard for excellence in transportation security through its people, processes and technologies." Humm.

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Comments (7)



  • dave

    when I flew back from europe in Feb. '03, Logan Airport was extremely congested. The line for customs was approx. 1/2 mi. long. So at this point they just let everyone go. Seriously, no ID, no passport, no interrogation, nothing. Everyone was just let out the door. Truly amazing....

    #1Posted by dave | Aug 19, 2004, 09:24 AM
  • eokyere

    i have to say... i just know boingboing won't follow up on this one ;)

    #2Posted by eokyere | Aug 19, 2004, 11:09 AM
  • John Dowdell

    I've wondered why the screening is handled at the federal level, rather than at the airport level or the carrier level. If you could compare airlines for safety measures just as you'd compare them for prices or leg room then it seems like it would get rid of a lot of the tug-of-war about searching and profiling, wouldn't it?

    (In their defense, unpredictable testing can be nearly as effective as uniform testing... not being able to rely on passing through unchecked is a major deterrent.)

    #3Posted by John Dowdell | Aug 19, 2004, 12:32 PM
  • cyrn

    The carriers and airports never held their hands up to handle passenger screening post-9/11 because they didn't want to bear any liability should another incident occur. Plus, the Federal government believes it in the best position to coordinate intelligence information and execute actions to prevent certain people from flying. Finally, the Federal government can act with multiple degrees more impunity than a private company. If a personally is falsely prevented from boarding a flight and searched, if a private company is conducting the screening, they'll like be sued. After 9/11, the airlines are gunshy about bearing any significant responsibility for ensuring passenger safety.

    #4Posted by cyrn | Aug 19, 2004, 03:35 PM
  • David

    That certainly is frustrating. Aren't those federal employee's well paid? I hope they are not representative of the rest of the TSA. The gov't employee syndrome is certainly toxic to national security. But privatizing security won't work either. When privatized, the toxicity comes from the executives who want to hire minimum wage talent in order to maximize profit.

    #5Posted by David | Aug 19, 2004, 08:25 PM
  • Tom

    Well, you know you can always move over to Canada, we don't have very long checkup lines at our airports :))

    #6Posted by Tom | Aug 20, 2004, 10:58 AM
  • Ernesto

    Well, perhaps the TSA at Detroit was a ColdFusion developer in her free time. In that case, she surely has no need to ask for an ID to Ben Forta.

    The strange thing is that she didn't ask you for an autograph in her "ColdFusion MX Web Application Construction Kit" book....


    (btw, the CFX_SpellCheck didn't know about the word "ColdFusion")

    #7Posted by Ernesto | Aug 27, 2004, 11:57 AM