Thursday, November 18, 2010

A flying...


This phrase has always struck me as bit off. I imagine little fairies or cherubs or 300 pound men on Circus trapeze, whatever. When kids would say this in High-school, or more correctly yell it, I was always puzzled. I digress.

I picked this title because a friend made a very funny funny and it inspired me. (Thank you R!)

If you are somewhat awake and following the news, you know that the TSA has been busy of late. Want to bone up on the full body scanners and enhanced pat downs - go here for a primer.

I will also note, H had an incident this week, at an airport, where these new procedures are in play. A butter knife was found and H followed protocol and the head of TSA for that airport came and that clown asked H if he wanted to search the plane or not. H is like, heck ya I wanna search the plane, I want to see what else you missed.The passengers deplaned and they all got re-screened and the plane got a thorough going over (all except the cargo, that is.)

I will let you in on a little secret. I dislike Big Brother (who now is turning into Creepy pervy - in a bad way - Uncle!) I have a real problem with people in authority who are stupid. While we are at it, I have zero tolerance or patience for stupid in general. I also have a BIG problem with my basic rights being violated. Convicted criminals cannot be subjected to this type of invasion of privacy without proper cause and yet we the American flying public are paying to be subjected to groping and radiation and news flash - it isn't doing anything to make us safer. Not when cargo goes unscreened or under-screened and airport employees are only randomly screened.

So while those of us who choose to fly (which is not me - after my trip to Cancun, I plan to stay firmly on terra firma for awhile.) are stripping down to our underwear, being zapped with what cannot be a safe amount of radiation, by people who may or may not be saving those images, and then poked and prodded in a manner that would get the average horny guy in a bar arrested and on a sexual predator list - millions and I mean millions of pounds of cargo are flying on commercial airliners - unscreened or under-screened. H says he routinely gets a manifest which includes cargo, that NO ONE had screened since it has been entered into the system and then it is likely the shipper answered some yes or no questions, and not enduring a groping.

Go with God, darling. Go with God. Especially when this is the US attitude toward screening of cargo.

U.S. Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole, who also attended the conference, said a delicate balance needs to be struck to ensure that the enhanced security requirements for air freight do not disrupt global trade.
"The flow of global commerce is key to economic recovery," Pistole said. "Security cannot bring business to a standstill."

So while we consumers, air travelers and normal Joe's are being subjected to draconian and I think illegal searches of our person and property, cargo, stuff in boxes is flying first class, unsearched and unscreened.

This Article has a great graphic detailing how cargo is processed. While there is some screening, it is not nearly as invasive or as thorough as passengers are enduring. Nor is cargo stored in a sterile area. It is often left unattended, on the tarmac, on a truck or in a warehouse.

Now if I were of a mind to wreck havoc, I would go for the airport employees - who come to work and largely get to pass through unscreened. While nosing around, I found this article about what the TSA says it is doing. I am not buying it. H says he has never, in all the airports he has been in, seen it either. I think that every employee of an airport should have to submit to the same screening as passengers everyday. Why should they be any different than the guy who flies two to three times a week? They are the door in. Let's face it, they are paid peanuts. Many are foreigners or new to the US and money is an issue. I am not sure how easy it is to do a 10 year background check on a tarmac employee, who is from Kenya or Somilia or Mexico and been in this country for a few years. I am sure those governments, in the developing world have great record keeping methods and I am sure they are super willing to share that information.

Also I recall rather fondly the time, I discovered while doing a client's 401 K pre-test audit and discovered that there were 17 different employees, at three different plants, with the same social security number. Fake ID's anyone? The terrorists who brought us 9/11, many of them had valid State issued ID. While it is illegal to lie to the BMV, a guy or gal who wants to blow something up, I seriously doubt lying to a quasi government agency, a government they have great contempt for, is a great moral quandary.

I am not the only one concerned about this. This article speaks to the perils of swipe cards and security by-pass procedures, which are the rule at US airports, not an exception. (Read more here and here )

So I do give a flying f*ck. My Sweetie, goes to work and his office is 35,000 ft off the ground. I want him to be safe and if I was assured that all the other loop holes were closed and the only way we could assure his safety was for me to strip naked and walk through the airport, get my thyroid fried with radiation and let some pervy, underpaid, under educated goon grope me, I would do it. Heck I might kiss the goon.

But that is not the case and until we close those other loop holes - this is a classic case of the government being lazy and stupid and motivated by corporate interests. Don't hold up cargo. Don't make my employees have to go through security, it eats into the work day. Why should I pay to have them groped. Blah, blah, blah.

The metal detector and the wand searches are enough. They are not 100%, but I think H's experience this week proves they are just as effective as the searches which steal our human rights. I would rather take my chances on what works reasonably well and maintains my dignity than what clearly doesn't work and puts us on the slippery slope to a police state.

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