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Posted at 2:10 PM ET, 11/17/2010

TSA's 'junk' bond helps keep us all safe

By Jonathan Capehart

As mantra's go, "don't touch my junk" is an excellent rallying cry for folks opposed to the invasive pat-downs that must be endured if they decline to go through the advanced and more revealing airport scanners. While I totally understand the privacy concerns and think the Transportation Security Administration should be sensitive to growing public unease about the scanners, I really have no sympathy for John Tyner, the man who uttered the vivid rejoinder.

I've largely stayed out of the latest flare-up in this debate since my view was clearly expressed in "I'll take the full-body scan" and "Get over your fear of advanced airport scanners." But a forceful tweet from @GStuedler was just too good not to retweet.

@GStuedler: Flying is a privilege, it is not a right. If you can't handle the search...take the bus.

Of course, @stevebeste was right when he reprimanded me and @GStuedler for calling flying a "privilege." But the rest of the comment stands. And the comments from other twitterers were equally forceful. @Lovelyladypa, who agrees with .0001% of what I write or say (on MSNBC), tweeted, "I say take the bus, take a car or damn walk. We all have 2 feet to walk w. I say pat me down, scan me up."

This came from my favorite twitter handle, @AwhHellNaw: "AMEN to that!! I understand how the pilots feel and there's definitely a need for that conversation but for those complaining....about the full body scan and/or the pat down, baby GreyHound is two blocks that way, get to steppin!!"

These sentiments are perfectly in line with a great quote from Jon Adler, of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association. "I think a bomb detonating on a plane is the biggest invasion of privacy a person can experience," he told The Post in January. He's still right.

By Jonathan Capehart  | November 17, 2010; 2:10 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

Will you have the same reaction when it is your wife subjected to a pat-down? How about your children (ages 12 and up)?

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | November 17, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who has taken even the most minimal college level mathematics understands that the statistical probability of a three year old making an airplane explode is far lower than the statistical probability of being hit by lightning while inside an outhouse.

I have written to the airlines I have used in the past two years, my congresswoman, my senator, the White House, and the TSA telling them that this new procedure has crossed the line from the merely silly and useless to the degrading and illegal.

Posted by: felisrufus | November 17, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

As long as there's a happy ending, I'll take the patdown.

Posted by: jiji1 | November 17, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Men should be able to request the sex of their pat-down person.

Posted by: submarinerssn774 | November 17, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me that the more grope searches or full body scans you do, the greater the pressure to do them quickly. The greater the pressure to do them quickly, the more likely errors become. I'm not advocating profiling, but TSA claims that they can identify more likely terrorists by watching behavior. If they can do that, why take the time and spend the money to fund the gropes and scans?

By the way, TSA's record of catching would-be terrorists at the gate is lousy. A few years ago, a college student planted simulated bombs in aircraft restrooms. Some weren't found for weeks. The shoe bomber? Got on board with no trouble. The underwear bomber? Apparently no difficulty. (Okay, so the only one who boarded a plane in the US was the student with the simulated bombs, but that doesn't make TSA look a lot better considering the number of searches they perform.)

Posted by: amstphd | November 17, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

What new rules will the TSA pass if a baggage or cargo handler puts a bomb on a commercial airliner? What if they attack by driving through the airport’s gates? As soon as their trucks are spotted on a taxiway or runway the FAA will have all planes stop making them easy targets for car bombs. What then TSA?

Posted by: gfhoward258 | November 17, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Probably one out of ten "patters" will be gay/lesbian. Sexual harassment, what fun!

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | November 17, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

I gotta side with those griping about getting groped. Even before these new pat-down procedures, I have had to undergo some rather intrusive pat-downs just because I got magically "chosen" for the optional extra security screening. If it had been a date, ut;s halfway to second base... all that with no dinner, drinks or cab fare home.

Back in the day... during the Age of Aquarius, some folks got pretty creative with their protests. Marches became sit-ins, sit-ins became love-ins and some love-ins became clothing optional.

Instead of refusing to get screened at airport security next Wednesday, protesters should don their thong bikinis and skimpiest Speedos under their winter coats. When they get to the security line, the abundance of human flesh, the inability to hide anything anywhere should help the TSA agents keep the lines moving. No need for a pat-down when you can seen just about everything. And since most Speedos and thongs leave nothing to the imagination, it's hard to be the underwear bomber when you're not wearing any skivvies. For ambience, perhaps they TSA can spread sand around the security area and call it "The Beach." Add a few beachballs and cabana boys. Put a little Jimmy Buffet on the sound system.
Or a little viral Auto-Tune:
"hide your kids,
hide your wife,
don't stare at my trunk
or dare to touch my junk,
and by the by,
the rent is too damn high!"

Unless the TSA is going to up the ante to full-on cavity searches...

Posted by: jade_7243 | November 17, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

It's hard to take a bus to Europe or Asia. Also, as a large percentage of travelers are doing it for business, taking the bus would seem like a sure way to slow the economy.

Posted by: aeglaeca | November 17, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse


The "no fly" day protest is silly; make it "fly in a thong day" instead.

Posted by: nuke41 | November 17, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

This is the same old stupid argument that is supposed to scare us all into submission. The TSA haven't stopped ANY terrorists! The FBI & the CIA have. All the TSA has done is strip normal people of sharp or pointy things. This issue is so much broader than security. It encapsulates so many issues that critically important to Americans right now. Health and the impact of technology (and whether the government can be trusted to look out for our well being - the FDA is presenting the ATI backscatter machine in a false light and not discussing the considerable safety concerns that highly trained x ray, cancer, and imaging experts, people much more learned in the field than the FDA, have listed), Financial corruption & the government (trace the money trail, all 300 million +, on this and then you'll start to ask if these new machines are really about safety), a sense that personal dignity and respect for the government as representative of the public's will is dangerously eroded (the government's response to public outrage is to ignore -silence from the whitehouse- and send out Pistole to do his best little "let's be partners and this is about your safety" dance), privacy concerns in an age when techonology seems to be stripping us of our privacy and dragging our most personal selves into the public sphere for display. Your argument about safety is a tired one. Credible experts on security have stated that the scans don't really stop terrorists because if a terrorist gets to the security gate they will have figured out how to get past the currently deployed TSA checks.

Posted by: brewsterjeanne | November 18, 2010 1:35 AM | Report abuse

I don't care if you scan me or give me a patdown (but I try to avoid optional radiation so I'd go with the patdown)... but I still won't fly.

1) If I performed this "enhanced pat down" on a minor I'd be charged (properly) with the sexual assault of a minor.

2) The "random" nature of these searches means some minors will be singled out for a pat down.

Are you willing to support and endorse a policy by which kids will be sexually assaulted so you can be a tiny bit safer?

I guess Johnathan is ok having kids molested so he can feel safer... does everyone really feel this way?

Posted by: gekkobear1 | November 18, 2010 1:38 AM | Report abuse

Why don't you tweet the 4th amendment you twit(ter). Last time I checked it was part of the bill of "Rights" which we the people can't be forced to give up, even for "privileges." If I get in that situation maybe I'll ask to see a warrant first. What are you looking for and what gives you probable cause to search me?

Posted by: LaRighty | November 18, 2010 2:11 AM | Report abuse

Why don't you tweet the 4th amendment you twit(ter). Last time I checked it was part of the bill of "Rights" which we the people can't be forced to give up, even for "privileges." If I get in that situation maybe I'll ask to see a warrant first. What are you looking for and what gives you probable cause to search me?

Posted by: LaRighty | November 18, 2010 2:11 AM | Report abuse

Flying is not a privilege, it is a commercial transaction; and not one I'm going to purchase again.

Posted by: sobi1 | November 18, 2010 4:50 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to refresh your memory-the TSA did NOT find anything prior to the underwear bomber because they were not molesting people then. I hope there's not a tampon bomb or I guess I'm not flying anymore.
Do you have a niece or nephew? Would you be comfortable touching them there? Why allow a stranger to do that?
Nobody does this to me at Tyson's Corner...there are a lot of people there everyday...is there a chance someone will bring a bomb in? Yes. What about a Redskins game? What about the Capital? I went last week, nobody touched my private parts. It's not a reasonable response.
When you go to a store, the security guard only follows around people he/she thinks may be an issue. Not 9 year old girls. And if he suspects a 9 year old girl, he still doesn't get to touch her vagina.

Posted by: dcjayhawk2 | November 18, 2010 5:57 AM | Report abuse

mr. capehart, don't quit your day job. you, and your tweeter fans, aren't the brightest bulbs in anyone's box, based on the decidedly uninformed comments made by all of you, regarding TSA's invasive (and useless) search policies. so far, since 9/11, not one instance of terrorism prevention has been recorded, as a consequence of the ever increasingly invasive searches by TSA. not one. that isn't to say potential weapons haven't been smuggled through security, just that TSA, with all its fancy new toys, hasn't caught them first. call me less than whelmed.

oddly, the israelis have been dealing with terrorism since oh, about 1948, and they have airports too, with potential terrorists right on their borders. they don't conduct the mass, meaningless searches of both body and baggage that we've instituted in the US. odder still, you never hear about a plane leaving from an israeli airport being hijacked. i wonder why that might be?

having my "junk" (or anyone else's, for that matter) fondled, by a TSA operative, doesn't make me feel safer, it just makes me feel creepy.

Posted by: cpinva | November 18, 2010 7:56 AM | Report abuse

mr. capehart, don't quit your day job. you, and your tweeter fans, aren't the brightest bulbs in anyone's box, based on the decidedly uninformed comments made by all of you, regarding TSA's invasive (and useless) search policies. so far, since 9/11, not one instance of terrorism prevention has been recorded, as a consequence of the ever increasingly invasive searches by TSA. not one. that isn't to say potential weapons haven't been smuggled through security, just that TSA, with all its fancy new toys, hasn't caught them first. call me less than whelmed.

oddly, the israelis have been dealing with terrorism since oh, about 1948, and they have airports too, with potential terrorists right on their borders. they don't conduct the mass, meaningless searches of both body and baggage that we've instituted in the US. odder still, you never hear about a plane leaving from an israeli airport being hijacked. i wonder why that might be?

having my "junk" (or anyone else's, for that matter) fondled, by a TSA operative, doesn't make me feel safer, it just makes me feel creepy.

Posted by: cpinva | November 18, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Jonathan, there is only ultimate safety in death, the jihadist will be glad to give you that safety. Meanwhile, let the authorities (overseers) steal your pride, if it makes you less afraid.

Posted by: MikeMcLamara | November 18, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

What qualifies Pistole to be the head of the TSA and his worthless superior Napolitano to head Homeland Security? Pistole should have started his career in airport/aircraft security at the botton like I did. I am also a retired FED and as for the former gov of Arizona the nitwit Napolitano couldn't even secure the state's border with Mexico and she is now in Homeland Security. This is all a joke. Wake up America!!!!

Posted by: rustynailx | November 18, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Your "help keeps us all safe" line is bogus. If a terrorist wants to bring down a plane they will go to whatever extremes necessary to get by the pat-down, including using a body cavity to hide whatever. This is just the government trying look like they are "doing something." The chance of a child or old lady boarding an airplane, knowingly or unknowingly, with a bomb in their underwear is ZERO. It's not going to happen, so why this ridiculous charade?

Posted by: scrumps03 | November 18, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

"The point of terrorism is to cause terror, sometimes to further a political goal and sometimes out of sheer hatred. The people terrorists kill are not the targets; they are collateral damage. And blowing up planes, trains, markets or buses is not the goal; those are just tactics.

The real targets of terrorism are the rest of us: the billions of us who are not killed but are terrorized because of the killing. The real point of terrorism is not the act itself, but our reaction to the act.

And we're doing exactly what the terrorists want…

The surest defense against terrorism is to refuse to be terrorized. Our job is to recognize that terrorism is just one of the risks we face, and not a particularly common one at that. And our job is to fight those politicians who use fear as an excuse to take away our liberties and promote security theater that wastes money and doesn't make us any safer. “
- Security Expert Bruce Schneier

Posted by: jgmann | November 18, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

What a mendacious article. "Flying is a privilege, it's not a right...take the bus".

I defy you to explain to anyone here where the line is between flying and taking a bus. By your reasoning, isn't taking a bus also a privilege? And isn't leaving your house a privilege?

Freedom of movement is precisely a human right, not a privilege that some group can take away or restrict. To argue for its restriction in any form is to cast your lot with Castro, Stalin and Mao. To deign to tell the American people what is their right and what is a privilege that may be taken from them, you sure must have a lofty perch.

And you can't be this stupid: They wouldn't have given you a job at a newspaper if you'd never studied logic and Platonic reasoning at some point. Therefore, you're a liar, and this article is a mendacious attempt to reinforce the atmosphere of fear and compliance that your paper attempts to impose on the American psyche.

That man, Tyner, is a hero. If you're blind to that, you're either a fool or you're bought off.

Posted by: joshstrike | November 18, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

PS, apparently your conformist line isn't getting such a positive reaction, no matter how much cute twitter stuff you throw at it. Seems to me Americans aren't taking this kind of BS from people like you anymore. Run along now and lick the nice policeman's boots. Some folks just love to be the slave who gets a little dispensation from the boss to order the other slaves around.

You're no better than the Jews who survived by putting their own people in the oven. At least they had a gun to their heads.

Posted by: joshstrike | November 18, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

The idea that these new procedures are going to make us any safer is beyond ridiculous. I mean, picture this: a terrorist has carefully secreted a bomb about his person that will evade detection by the metal detectors but not by the full-body scanners (which aren't being used on most passengers). He decides to take his chances on being able to get it on the plane.

Unfortunately, he's one of the ones who gets selected for the full-body scan. He knows he's about to get caught, and he's in the middle of an extremely crowded security screening area in an airport. He therefore has basically two options: 1) Surrender quietly, be arrested, and go to jail, or 2) set the bomb off right then and there, killing a whole bunch of people and himself in an airport instead of going with his original plan, which was to kill a whole bunch of people and himself in an airplane.

Which do you think is more likely to happen?

Posted by: psknight | November 19, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Well, it would keep us all safer from murderers if the police were allowed to search whomever they wanted, at any time, if they were allowed to come into anybody's house and search it for any reason without a warrant. That would definitely keep us safer and probably save a lot more lives than the counterterrorism measures. So why don't we do that?

Posted by: heartprivacy | November 20, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

What a ridiculous premise... Take the bus. This isn't typically an option for many international business travelers. It is not an option for a family required to relocate internationally. It is not an option for many long distance family emergencies.

I will say that my leisure travel will be cut back significantly due to this new 'security theater'. However, it would be virtually impossible to completely eliminate air travel for my entire family while remaining gainfully employed.

Posted by: amspeltz | November 21, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

If you are too afraid to get on a plane without draconian security measures like taking naked pictures of 13 year old girls and groping grandmothers with colostomy bags, then YOU should take the bus.

Posted by: amspeltz | November 21, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

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