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TSA Insanity, Smoke Screens, and Security Theater

Vanity Fair exposes just how dumb the TSA actually is. ( More...

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dmanuel 0
I find it strange that several airports (ATL for one) have periodic TSA security announcements saying liquids weighing more than 3 ounces... Ah, the 3 ounce rule is a volume not a weight.
klaken 0
Activity seems to create the illusion of accomplishment. Security Theater is a most appropriate name for this folly. American people are really inept at controlling this government sponsored invasion on citizen privacy.
Don Arsenault 0
Odd, How can Vanity Fair "expose" that which the TSA works so diligently to demonstrate in public each and every day?
IFlyUBuy 0
I thought it odd, too. What next? Home & Garden?
Ralph Wigzell 0
Why wasn't the boarding card put through a card reader? Boarding cards (should) have a magnetic stripe. Surely that will be hard to fake, since each card is encoded with the flight details relating to a booking in the system? Someone gets onto the plane with a fake boarding card, they should pick it up from the passenger manifest.
Wally Piper 0
Haven't flow much lately have you. Most boarding passes are printed by the passenger on their own printer at home or at the office prior to going to the airport. At the airport, boarding passes are printed by thermal printers on flimsy paper at the self check in kiosks. And at many airports, you don't need a printed pass at all. Just an image of a boarding pass, displayed on the screen of your smart phone, will get you through security. (Those are scanned by a device at the security check point and I am not knowledgeable about exactly what that scan checks. I assume that it checks the image against a database of legitimate boarding passes issued by the airlines, but I don't know that. There is no human involvement in the process.) Your are correct that a fake pass should, and will, be detected at the gate (without a magnetic strip, just by validating against a list of checked in passengers or something). What the fake pass does is get a person into the "sterile" area of an airport without a legitimate boarding pass. Whether or not that represents a big threat is a different issue. The point of it is that we spend millions of hours and billions of dollars a year to have people stand in line and display their boarding pass and photo ID to an agent for the purported purpose of only allowing ticketed passengers into the sterile area of the airport, and it is all for naught since the simple quick visual check of the boarding pass cannot hope to detect a fake.

Recently at YUL, my boarding pass was scanned electronically by various security agents, presumably being checked against a list of legitimate passes valid for that day. That's the only time I've seen that done for paper passes.
Pileits 0
Don't over look those dangerous finger nail clippers!
bob venue 0
It works for Obama.
cmp5n 0
Great post and find mattdavis!
walter adney 0
WOW, to come down on an agency that does so much to protect you, why don't you complain about the police, firemen, paramedics and so on. I worked CIVILIAN passenger screening as a supervisor before TSA came about. Believe me you do not want to go back to letting free enterprise take over airport screening again. You think there are problems now.
conmanflyer 0
so full of shit it ain't funny... but policemen, firemen, paramedics, etc, actually do a somethng, and even do a good job
Donald Cook 0
Absolutely! And somehow injected into the official state records of live births, because the people who did it knew that Obama would run for the presidency one day and wanted this issue covered. You really need to take ten deep breaths.
Donald Cook 0
Absolutely! And the photoshopped birth record (before there was any such thing as Photoshop) was cleverly inserted into the official state records of live births, and even more cleverly called a "Certificate of Live Birth" so knowledgeable whackos would spot that it was not a "birth certificate", because somebody back then was not only so prescient as to know Barack Obama would run for the presidency but able to carry this off without the benefit of modern software, to the point that nobody has shown to this moment any convincing evidence that there is any irregularity, except folks like you who pathetically need a real life. You're an honest to God real patriot, and I mean that, but you need to take about ten deep breaths.
Amy Dillon 0
Photoshop has been the bane of our society since its existence, so it doesn't surprise me that boarding passes are included in the lot. Photoshop allows anything actual to become corrupted.
smoki 0
Anything actual indeed including the purported birth certificate of the President of the United States. It seems that a photoshopped forgery of a birth certificate can be used to certify one's constitutional eligibility for the Presidency of the United States but not for anything else lest one risk going to jail for trying it.
Eric Heigis 0
Think about it, the CIA forges all kinds of documents for their agents. A birth certificate would be a piece of cake for them to make.
Amy Dillon 0
It's a scary world in which we live... Who can keep up with all the corruption given the ever growing technology at our fingertips?
bob venue 0
It worked for Obama! (just kidding....I hope)
Falconus 0
Okay, you can believe in your Obama birth certificate forging, alien abductions, or whatever; that's your business. However, this isn't really a platform for political discussions. You can do a Google search and find some forums that are probably more appropriate than this one for that.
Falconus 0
*It's no the platform for non-aviation related political discussions.
I am one of those airport workers (I'm an A&P mechanic) with a Security Identification Display Area (SIDA) badge, issued by the airport itself. I have to go through my company's security entrance, emptying my pockets and passing through a metal detector. I then get into my work van loaded with all sorts of sharp objects, heavy potential weapons, and flammable fluids, and I am free to drive on and off the airport by simply showing my badge to a "guard" at a truck entrance gate. If I were so inclined (I'm not, fortunately!), I could easily load the van up with anything and everything you might imagine; guns, explosives, gases, etc. Yet, I can't carry a simple pocket knife through the "security" entrance? Go figure!
More like open mike night at a comedy club with badges.
Jack Gelb 0
I'm always amazed that carrying 4 3-oz. containers of liquid thru Security is OK, but one 12-oz. bottle of water is verboten. Obviously, mathematics is not TSA's strong point either ...
smoki 0
"Photoshop allows anything actual to become corrupted."

Anything indeed, including the purported birth certificate for the President of the United States! If it were used to validate a candidate's natural born citizenship pursuant to constitutional law vis-a-vis eligibility for the presidency of the United States and was subjected to a thorough forensic examination by experts, it would be ruled a forgery and the perp would at best be disqualified as ineligible and at worst go to jail with but one glaring exception. Any idea as to who or what that glaring exception is!
Elliot Cannon 0
Homeland Security, the TSA, the Patriot Act was George W. Bushs' knee jerk reaction to 911. How many people and/or agencies responsible for airport security were disciplined or punished in ANY way?
Eric Heigis 0
"Both the TSA and FAA are knee-jerk organizations" This was told to me by a friend who is a tower controller.
Patrick Smith 0
No kidding.

A very good article, but I fail to understand why every journalist in the country, not just Mr. Mann, hasn't been screaming about this for the past ten years.

I'm an airline pilot and a columnist for Much of what Mann says, I've been pointing out repeatedly since shortly after 9/11. If you appreciated this story, you might read to hear my own take:

Patrick Smith


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