Social Question

snowberry's avatar

Is there ever going to be anything to hold the TSA employees and administrators accountable for criminal behavior?

Asked by snowberry (24146points) May 28th, 2015

TSA (finally) released records of alleged sexual abuse to Judicial Watch on May 15, 2015. It’s now public record, FINALLY after a lot of stalling on their part. Here’s a link.
And that doesn’t cover all the theft they’ve committed either.

What can be done that hasn’t been done to hold these jerks accountable?

Let’s keep it fun but I’d like serious answers too.

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20 Answers

Blondesjon's avatar

Until Americans can get over their addiction to the fear they are force fed 24/7 there will never be anything we can do to hold TSA employees and administrators accountable for criminal behavior.

Zaku's avatar

Well we could abolish the TSA, and Homeland Security while we’re at it.

For just holding them accountable, we might just need to generate and spread enough media about the abuses.

snowberry's avatar

I’m all for the TSA taking a course from the Israelis. Their security is actually effective. But it seems we’re stuck on Stupid, and can’t figure it out.

whitenoise's avatar

I read the complaints and is it just me, or is it not truly shocking at all?

I see no serious issues except for some cases in which the TSA is taking action towards its staff already.

Women complaining about TSO’s touching their breasts? Get over yourselves.

A lady complains about a TSO asking her to assist with a swap of her colostomy bag for explosive material? Didn’t sound to me as a problem. Sounded like the best / most respectable way to test that bag.

Most what I read was American travelers taking themselves too serious.

RadioFlyer's avatar

On balance, I think that the TSA does a great job. We fly around the U.S. on a fairly regular basis, and continue to take off and land in one piece, thankyouverymuch.

Yeah, sometimes a week after we get home, I realize that a pair of brand-new jeans are missing, but it’s a small price to pay…..I can live with that….

Buttonstc's avatar


I saw an interview with a former Israeli officer which shed a bit of light on the vast differences between their airport screeners and ours.

Several things stood out to me. Firstly, they are well paid, well trained and and considered professionals on par with Detectives, FBI or Secret Servicr Agents here in the US; NOT basically minimum-wage flunkies on par with fast food workers. The TSA may outfit them with snazzy uniforms but so does Burger King.

A uniform alone does not a professional make.

In line with the Israelis status and training, they are given extensive psychological training on human behavior and how to read body-language cues and asking the right types of questions. This is on par with detectives or FBI interrogatora here in the US. Asking the right leading questions is an art form in itself which highly skilled people are trained to use.

And finally, they are backed up by an extensive computer system which gives them thorough info on each ticket buyer prior to them even entering the building. This is primarily from public records (not intrusive spying) and contains things like their job title, company worked for, family members, travel records, criminal records, etc. etc.

If it’s a choice between questioning more closely a young man having recently traveled to or from a Muslim country, usually single, versus a female executive at a firm (with young children at home) traveling on business, three guesses whom they’ll focus on for asking more questions? It’s far less likely that a mother with young children and a decent job is a secret terrorist.

Profiling? You bet. BUT it’s highly intelligent profiling based upon behavior patterns and reactions to questions rather than superficial stuff like skin color, speech accent or whether they’re wearing a turban or not. It makes a lot of sense to me.

They even flagged Mike Huckabee’s passport and asked him a few questions :) He explained that he was (then) a former USA governor and traveled regularly to Israel and the Mideast. His passport had been flagged because he had recently traveled to Afghanistan on a fact finding mission with several congresan. But the computer didn’t care. He had been to a terrorist country so worth a closer look. Obviously, the human component of the equation (the screener) realized that he was hardly a likely candidate for terrorism and he proceeded on his way.

So, evidently they have multiple criteria (both computer and personal observation) for whom to pick out of a huge crowd to tale a closer look at.

I think that the plane hijacked to Entebbe airport so many years ago and subsequently freed by Israeli commandos gave them the realization that they needed to do a far better job of prevention. So they did. (Netanyahu’s brother was killed in the commando raid.)

We wouldn’t dream of using anything less than a highly trained professional to be an undercover Air Marshall, so why are the standards so much much lower when hiring others to protect passengers by the screening process?

When lives are at stake, you need to hire and train professionals and pay them adequately to get the results you want.

But, if I’m not mistaken, isn’t it either the airports or the airlines who pay and (minimally) train these people?

As with many other aspects of life, you get what you pay for.and it’s obvious that minimum wage won’t cut it.

snowberry's avatar

@Buttonstc excellently put! Thank you! As I understand it, the TSA are government employees, and are trained under the direction of Homeland Security. But Burger King might do better…

As for TSA doing a great job, they do a great job at harrassing and humiliating everyone, and they pick on the most vulnerable. As far as I can see, they are pretty much free to steal with impunity, as well as molest us and our kids. Considering their lack of training, I’d say we’re just lucky we haven’t had worse problems with terrorists.

whitenoise's avatar


All complaints I hear all the time are about bing impolite. Sorry to say but my experiences at the Israeli border have every time been more frustrating than the ones in the U.S..

In Tel Aviv the jest of the profiling they used was… Those with an Israeli passport get minimal checked, we’ll be rude to the others.

Results may vary, but the most recent times I traveled and came into contact with TSA (about 16 times in two months), they were courteous and efficient.

rojo's avatar

The TSA, like many unions (unfortunately) refuse to police themselves; keeping and defending the bad as well as the good members. Until they, and other unions, get rid of those causing the problems themselves and/or allow those who commit crimes to be prosecuted, they will continue to have a bad reputation.

snowberry's avatar

I’ve personally seen several times where computers or other valuables were switched or stolen off of the belt while the owners were being detained by TSA employees. And all the while they’ll tell you that everything is “safe” because it’s all on video! That’s not true.

When the passenger discovers their computer (or anything) has been switched or stolen after going through security, the TSA makes an announcement along the lines of “After going through security, please check your carryon luggage for things that don’t belong to you.” But it’s the passenger’s fault if it’s taken! Yep, that’s professional behavior alright! LOL!

When I went through security in Philadelphia, the TSA agent tried to force me to stand where I couldn’t see my bag. I loudly proclaimed, “Ma’am, unless YOU PERSONALLY can promise my luggage won’t be switched or stolen off of the belt while you’ve got me waiting where I can’t see it, I’ll stand where I am. Feel free to arrest me for trying to protect my luggage. She then arranged for someone to grab my bag off the belt and place it where I could see it. That was decent of her, and I said so.

I’m probably fortunate that I wasn’t arrested for that terrorist behavior, but if it HAD been stolen while I’d been detained, it would have been “my fault” anyway.

snowberry's avatar

@RadioFlyer Seriously? Would you be OK with a policeman stopping you and relieving you of your chocolate bar or perhaps your Gucci sunglasses? That’s called theft, but the TSA gets a free pass. And you’re fine with it.

Apparently_Im_The_Grumpy_One's avatar

I could do with some downsizing…especially if it means the employees remaining are better trained.

As it stands, there is more security at the airport than Soldiers get in war zones.

I recently returned to the US and it was a constant struggle to avoid laughing. Upon landing we had to: go through a screening person, type on a computer thing, go through another screening person, get our bags, go through another screening person, get our bags scanned again, go through the guy in the little desk, then one more screening person. The entire time we were under video surveillance as well. All of this with my wife and my youngins who were steadily becoming more and more rowdy (understandably since at every single checkpoint there was a queue of about 200 people).

So yes, I would vote for less people who are better trained.

On the other hand, I’ve never had anything stolen. I’ve never felt threatened by them.

RadioFlyer's avatar

@snowberry As we all know, there are creeps in every profession. In no way am I “fine” with these people helping themselves to my stuff, but on balance I’d rather have them there than not there. Perspective. If I have to occasionally lose a pair of brand-new jeans because of the existing ‘way-of-the-world’ but our plane takes off and lands without incident….I’ll take it….

P.S. “Gucci sunglasses”??.....HA HA.
Anyone who spends big money on pretentious, “hey-look-at-me” items like that, then manages to lose them deserves whatever they get….

Zaku's avatar

I had a pair on one-inch folding scissors confiscated by Dallas TSA, because oh big threatening weapon of potential terror. I have also had to mail back to myself a couple of swiss army knives I didn’t realize I put in my checked bags. All of those items (and the 12-inch razor blades Adam Savage had in his bags) got through TSA super-security on our way out, and were only heroically detected on my way back.

I know kids who had their toy safety scissors confiscated.

My obviously utterly harmless 90-something-year-old grandmother had her shoes checked for explosives.

No, the TSA are not doing a great and needed job. They’re an overblown cash-in power-grab industry, part of the insult-upon-injury of the Bush administration’s Orwellian War On Terror™.

Buttonstc's avatar


Exactly. There is a clear lack of focus to their screening procedures and common sense goes out the window (because we don’t want to be accused of profiling, now do we?) Thus the insanity wasting time on 90 yr. old grandmas who are obviously not terrorist candidates.

If you train people in how to profile PROPERLY with relevant criteria, you save tremendous time and energy which could be much better directed toward taking a closer look at those with a potential for being recruited by terrorists.

And, no, that doesn’t mean every Arab looking person. That’s just ridiculous. But if they’ve recently traveled to or from a country harboring terrorist activity, then you want to know why. That’s just plain common sense.

What I cited above is just one fairly well known red flag. There are numeous others, based upon other criteria developed by the Israelis.

We could really learn a lot from them and I don’t know why they didn’t hire one of their top notch guys to run the entire progrm here (or at least as a consultant) so we could learn from the methodology of those who were clearly ahead of the curve on this issue.

But, I guess that just makes way too much sense, doesn’t it?

Zaku's avatar

@Buttonstc It makes too much sense, when the people making the decisions aren’t actually interested in making sense. It’s more an act of how can we get people to accept fewer rights and more domineering security and information collection as if its necessary, and to perpetuate the “War on Terror” drama so the oil industry can profit more by having stable oil prices not controlled by Arabs who aren’t part of the club, while also cashing in on a new “security industry”.

whitenoise's avatar

With respect to the TSA’s defense, I take back anything positive that I wrote above.

Given they they failed so miserably in missing 97% of the test challenges that were given to them recently, I think all the time they took from me was theft. They’re time bandits.

snowberry's avatar

What happened to the post I made a few hours ago about the TSA failing 95%? I don’t see it. Does anyone else? How does Fluther allow this to happen? It doesn’t even show up as being modded. It’s just not there.

whitenoise's avatar

There’s something wrong with fluther. It seems a bit ill.

snowberry's avatar

OK, I just found my comments. I accidentally posted them on another question. I’ll put them here rather than leaving you with a link. How convenient this should happen in the midst of this discussion:

TSA Chief Out After Agents Fail 95 Percent of Airport Breach Tests

Oh yeah! That inspires confidence! What a bunch of clowns! But the sad thing is it’s real.

An excerpt from the above link: In a 2013 hearing on Capitol Hill, then-TSA administrator John Pistole, described the Red Team as “super terrorists,” who know precisely which weaknesses to exploit.

“[Testers] know exactly what our protocols are. They can create and devise and conceal items that … not even the best terrorists would be able to do,” Pistole told lawmakers at a House hearing.

More recently, the DHS inspector general’s office concluded a series of undercover tests targeting checked baggage screening at airports across the country.
That review found “vulnerabilities” throughout the system, attributing them to human error and technological failures, according to a three-paragraph summary of the review released in September.

In addition, the review determined that despite spending $540 million for checked baggage screening equipment and another $11 million for training since a previous review in 2009, the TSA failed to make any noticeable improvements in that time.

So they’ve had 6 years to make improvements and still they fail.

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