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Congress Wants Your TSA Stories

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the and-so-do-I dept.

Government 328

McGruber writes "Transportation Security Administration (TSA) program challenges and failures will be the focus of a joint hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, on Monday, March 26, 2012. The Hearing is titled 'TSA Oversight Part III: Effective Security or Security Theater?' Bruce Schneier is scheduled to be a witness at this hearing. Additional information on the hearing is posted on the oversight committee's website. The Congressmen who serve on these committees are soliciting questions from the public to ask TSA officials at the hearing ... provided the public is willing to submit their questions via Facebook."

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328 comments

via Facebook only? (5, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457359)

There's the first complaint, right there...

Re:via Facebook only? (5, Insightful)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457389)

Indeed. It's aol all over again. For someone that doesn't have a facebook account it becomes more and more difficult to access parts of the internet.

Re:via Facebook only? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457419)

I completely agree! I can't believe they aren't planning to support telnetting in and typing my story directly into the database with an RPC!

Re:via Facebook only? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457491)

News flash: technology and the way people communicate changes over time. There are a bunch of old people around scared to death of the internet. Now, increasingly, there are a bunch of middle aged people around scared of Facebook, though it's how everyone under about 30 communicates. Facebook is the standard way to communicate online now. Don't be afraid. Realize that whether you kick and scream or not, the one constant of the world since the beginning of time, is that things change.

Re:via Facebook only? (4, Insightful)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457519)

The internet is not owned by any single entity. Facebook is.

Re:via Facebook only? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457697)

"... it's how everyone under about 30 communicates."

No, it is how everyone who is stupid communicates.

You are obviously in that set of people.

Not all of us are.

You will learn to call those who are not "sir" and "boss" and
in the end you will call all of them "master", because they will BE
your master, motherfucker.

Now get down on your knees and lick my boots.

Re:via Facebook only? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457725)

I'm 23 and without a Facebook account. It's clearly not how *everyone* under 30 communicates. Well, I suppose you could make the claim that I don't communicate, but I believe this very post refutes that.

Re:via Facebook only? (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457987)

Odd... that's like saying WoW is the standard way to play computer games today.

News flash: It doesn't become a standard just because it's a fad that many follow.

Re:via Facebook only? (5, Informative)

aoism (996912) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457521)

Even scarier, if you have a Facebook account and want to share some links, Facebook has started to censor site URLs they believe are malicious from the Facebook walls. Try to post a link to http://www.spi0n.com/ [spi0n.com] on your wall to see it in action.

Re:via Facebook only? (5, Informative)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457963)

Action:

Sorry, this post contains a blocked URL
The content you're trying to share includes a link that's been blocked for being spammy or unsafe:

spi0n.com
91.121.47.226

For more information, visit the Help Center. If you think you're seeing this by mistake, please let us know.

Re:via Facebook only? (-1, Troll)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457527)

Indeed. It's aol all over again. For someone that doesn't have a facebook account it becomes more and more difficult to access parts of the internet.

Yes, how sad that someone who refuses to use facebook for any reason won't get to participate in anything that happens on facebook. Almost as sad as that AOL thing you refer to, where a commercial information vendor would only let customers access AOL's data via AOL.

This problem is much cheaper to solve: get a facebook account. The only tie back to you is an email address, and you can buffer that through a throwaway gmail account.

Re:via Facebook only? (5, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457567)

This problem is much cheaper to solve: get a facebook account. The only tie back to you is an email address, and you can buffer that through a throwaway gmail account.

And agreeing to a 3rd party commercial entities terms of service to participate in democracy doesn't strike you as lunacy?

Why -exactly- should I need to agree to facebook's terms of use as a prerequisite for any sort of participation or interaction with my elected government?

Not everything is about the money something costs me. The fact that I -can- get a throwaway facebook account for free in no way changes the fact that I absolutely should not have to.

This is wrong.

It may well be convenient for many citizens, and even expedient and efficient for the government, but it is fundamentally wrong.

Re:via Facebook only? (1, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457693)

And agreeing to a 3rd party commercial entities terms of service to participate in democracy doesn't strike you as lunacy?

A. No. Going where the people are seems like a good thing, not lunacy at all. B. You aren't being prevented from participating in democracy. Write a letter if you feel strongly about something. You can't believe that the congress critters will ignore a letter just because they asked for comments via facebook.

Why -exactly- should I need to agree to facebook's terms of use as a prerequisite for any sort of participation or interaction with my elected government?

You don't. You are free to participate in ways other than via facebook.

It may well be convenient for many citizens, and even expedient and efficient for the government, but it is fundamentally wrong.

You do realize that every form of "participation" requires some action on the part of the citizen, don't you? "We should be allowed to send an email..." means you must have an email account. "We should be able to poke stuff into a web form..." means you must have Internet access AND a web browser. "We should be able to mail them a letter..." means you have to be able to afford a stamp and have the ability to write. Every means of participation inconveniences some citizens. Does that make all of those means of participation "fundamentally wrong"?

Yes, if facebook charged you money to participate, I'd agree that it was wrong to use facebook for this. Facebook is free. If you already have internet access, you can have facebook for nothing extra. Since the OP was talking about interacting in an internet environment to start with, then whether it is via facebook or email or web makes no significant difference. OTH, the phone company charges you money to call your Senator. Why is the phone company ok and facebook bad? Or do you think the fact that Senators have phones is "fundamentally wrong", too?

Get a free account under a dummy name. Use a throwaway email address. Don't be stupid and send friend requests to any real people who might out you. Don't post your real information. Don't use a real picture of yourself for your avatar. Do none of the things that would identify you. Do all of the things you would do for any other internet connection or app that would anonymize you. You get to participate, facebook gets nothing. What's your problem with that?

Re:via Facebook only? (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457997)

So I guess the next elections should be held at Walmart?

Re:via Facebook only? (0, Flamebait)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458069)

So I guess the next elections should be held at Walmart?

Why would you have a problem if one of the polling places was at a Walmart? Go to the local Walmart, go to the local school, big difference NOT. More parking at the Walmart. Doesn't disrupt classes. Doesn't keep sex offenders who are restricted from being within 200 feet of any school from voting. Sounds like a good plan.

In Oregon, with vote by mail, and Walmarts tending to have mail drop boxes, we actually have polling places in every Walmart. And lots of other stores and malls.

Re:via Facebook only? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458065)

You yourself claim that "Going where the people are seems like a good thing". At the same time, you claim that "You aren't being prevented from participating in democracy". Well, both are true, kindof. And completely missing the point.

Suppose we moved to a model of democracy where there is only one polling station in the middle of some desert. But you could also post your ballot at some retailer chain if you have their rebate/bonus/whatever card. You see, nobody would be prevented from voting, also, the card is free, and you could just fake the data, after all. And there are many people there, too, and what's better than going where people are? Anything odd about that idea?

Now, why is it supposedly good to go where people are? Because it lowers the barrier to participation. If you accept that premise, you essentially acknowlegde that it's not just about whether you have any possibility at all to participate, but also about there being some equal opportunity for everyone. Which is where facebook fails.

And that's not because of money. All the other methods of access are much less problematic for the simple reason that (a) to use those, you are not required to contract with any particular party, and (b) those options there are are rather heavily regulated and limited in what they can do to the interaction they facilitate. No postal service filtering out mail they don't like. No telco listening in to your calls in order to add some advertising.

Also, "anonymity" is not just about "being associated with you 'real' name". It's also about correlation between different interactions of yours. As far as facebook is concerned, it's actually more about that. It's mostly irrelevant to them what your "real" name is as long as they can recognize you. In order to create a profile of you, your name just doesn't matter. And multiple accounts are not allowed, AFAIK. So in order to easily participate in this (and presumably future) discussion(s), you are required to make your profile information accessible to one particular private entity.

Re:via Facebook only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457647)

WTF?

There is no technical reason that they couldn't use email. You know.. the technology people have been using to communicate with for decades.

Re:via Facebook only? (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457873)

Yes, how sad that someone who refuses to use facebook for any reason won't get to participate in anything that happens on facebook.

In that condescending tone you are using I see what you are saying. But you're missing the point.

The point is, Congress did not have to restrict this only to Facebook account holders. That's the only reason why there is any question of missing anything due to not having such an account. This is the US federal government. It's not like they couldn't afford their own site.

There is only one reason why such a well-funded, well-connected, powerful organization would do it this way. They want to restrict commentary to Facebook account holders, which is another way to say they only want to hear from people who jump on bandwagons. If you use Facebook there is a slim but non-zero chance you might be an individual who did so by your own decision and not as a result of caving in to some kind of social pressure. But in this day and age if you do not choose to participate in Facebook it is definitely because you are an individual who can resist all of the people trying to get you to jump on the bandwagon.

Wow, you mean a top-down organization like Congress doesn't want to hear from individuals who can think for themselves and make their own decisions, even going against the way the wind blows? Color me surprised.

It's a filtering mechanism. That's the only reason to do it this way. You really can't see that? Or is this personal to you -- you do have a Facebook account and don't want to admit that certain inferences can be made about you from that? That's fine and good but it has nothing to do with the effect this has. Two plus two does equal four even if you're really offended about it.

Re:via Facebook only? (2, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457975)

In that condescending tone you are using I see what you are saying. But you're missing the point.

Sarcasm often sounds condescending. I got the point. The point is specious.

The point is, Congress did not have to restrict this only to Facebook account holders.

They didn't. Where does it say, other than in the summary, that the only way of sending questions is via facebook? Answer: it doesn't. Fax your question. Email it. Nothing says only facebook will be accepted. It says members will accept questions via facebook -- which is a new thing and merits a specific comment so people know they CAN do it that way -- not that they will ONLY accept questions via facebook. They list the names of the members of the committee, you can use that information to contact them in any way you see fit.

You see, you sometimes on slashdot have to read the original material to get the true story. The summaries are sometimes wrong. Gasp. And sometimes they are wrong in a way intended to cause alarm and vast amounts of jumping up and down and moral outrage about something that isn't happening.

They want to restrict commentary to Facebook account holders, which is another way to say they only want to hear from people who jump on bandwagons.

They aren't restricting comments, so your entire bandwagon argument is flummery. And what does joining facebook so you can use facebook to send a comment to your congressman say about you? It means you joined facebook so you can send your comment to a congressman. It doesn't mean you "jump on bandwagons". You don't have to do any of the other stuff facebook is used for. It's a TOOL. How you use it is up to you. You can use it for all the social stuff like sharing pics with strangers or posting comments on other people's walls to make them look stupid or playing stupid games or joining corporate marketing campaigns, or whatever use it is that you feel merits deragatory remarks about people who use facebook. Or you can use it for the things you want to, like sending a comment to a congressman and nothing else.

It's a tool. If you use a hammer to drive in screws, you are a moron and a fool. If you use the hammer to drive nails, you aren't. Same tool. Different uses. Different users.

Re:via Facebook only? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457433)

It's about maximizing the number of people they can reach. FB reaches more people than email. If they're going to pick just ONE way to collect feedback, FB is the one that reaches the most people.

You increasingly see this elsewhere too, like companies who only accept warranty repair contacts on FB. Like it or not, it's becoming the de-facto standard way to communicate online.

Re:via Facebook only? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457641)

>>>only accept warranty repair contacts on FB

Should be illegal. What about people who don't even have internet? "Oh I'm sorry your Sony TV broke down. We don't have to honor the warranty because you don't have internet. Screw you customer. Hahahahahaha!"

Re:via Facebook only? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457785)

I hear this complaint from my elderly parents all the time... about how more-and-more government programs & corporate services are moving to the internet where they can't access them. And I agree with them. You should be able to get access through the phone, or in person, like it was in the past. Internet (or facebook) should not be the ONLY fucking option.

Re:via Facebook only? (0)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457855)

Internet (or facebook) should not be the ONLY fucking option.

Where is it said that internet or facebook is the only option?

And the summary is wrong, Bruce is not scheduled to testify on Monday. He's been cancelled. Cue the conspiracy theories....

Re:via Facebook only? (3, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457691)

Since you must have an email account to use facebook and you do not need facebook to have an email account, I would say you are wrong and that email would reach more people.

Re:via Facebook only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457847)

Please provide the list of companies doing this so I can boycott them! And no, this is not a "tongue-in-cheek" response. I'm quite serious. I've had it with this brand of nonsense...

Re:via Facebook only? (-1, Troll)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457751)

There's the first complaint, right there...

According to the NDAA, bad-mouthing a government department can get you sent to Gitmo or neutralized because Barry Soetoro said so.

Re:via Facebook only? (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457787)

This. Given the lack of transparency on the lists we know about (like no-fly lists), and the role of facebook in providing info to various government agencies, wouldn't retaliation of some kind for popular and troublesome questions be a concern?

Re:via Facebook only? (2)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457983)

Please feel free to steal/use/modify any of my questions. I do not use Facebook for politics.

What limits do you think should be placed on the TSA to avoid mission scope-creep?

What did you think of the "digging up Marilyn Monroe" incident over Twitter? Do you believe TSA employees should screen passengers based on their twitter feed? Do you think TSA employees should be allowed to wear police-like uniforms/badges when none of them received the training of police officers? Do you think the long lines at the security checkpoints are becoming themselves counterproductive since those long lines themselves could become terrorist targets?

Air travel (especially Economy class air travel) has become more inconvenient, more uncomfortable, and more stressful for passengers. What are some of the ways you'd suggest congress could alleviate those issues? Could the congress suggest ways to measure those problems as objectively as possible (without going through airport officials who have the incentive to keep those figures as artificially low as possible)?

Do you support the construction of huge airports that look cool and inflate the ego of the architect who designed them? Or do you think all that money could be better spent at making an airport more usable and more comfortable for the public? Do you support the monopoly practice of limiting which cab companies/airport shuttle companies get to pick up random passengers from the airport? Do you have any friends or family members sitting on those airport commissions yourself?

Should first class passengers be allowed to skip the extra screening at La Guardia airport for United (vs. the Economy class passengers)? I'm not talking about the pre-checked passengers or the frequent fliers, I'm asking about the first class/business class passengers that just had to pay extra money to get those tickets (just like the terrorists on 9/11 did to get first class tickets).

Bruce has been scrubbed from the hearing... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457385)

Not sure who's choice that was... "Mr. Schneier will not testify at Monday's hearing (UPDATE: 3/23/12)"

Questions (4, Insightful)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457415)

Is it right to sexually molest every man, woman, and child and get away with it under pretext of security? How does the USA like it's foreign tourist trade now that it's dropped off a cliff?

That is all.

Re:Questions (4, Interesting)

Mitreya (579078) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457545)

Is it right to sexually molest every man, woman, and child and get away with it under pretext of security?

I think we all agree that it is not.
A better question is - does Congress realize that they have the authority to dismantle TSA? Or are they simply estimating the size of the additional bureaucracy to add to the TSA?

Re:Questions (1, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457897)

Now a real warning needs to be issued here. Consider the TSA, consider the nature of the people involved, consider their access to highly vulnerable transport infrastructure.

What will TSA agents do to protect their jobs and their piece of petty power, how far would they go and what are they capable of doing to justify their existence.

Quite a significant percentage of TSA agents have proven to be of the very worst sort, so would these people bring down a airliner to protect their power base? This investigation could prove quite dangerous.

Re:Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457549)

Show me on the doll where the TSA agent touched you...

Re:Questions (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457743)

That part seems to be missing. Could you please show me some other dolls? Where can I purchase a doll for my girlfriend to point out where she was touched?

Re:Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457565)

dropped off a cliff? [citation needed]

Re:Questions (5, Funny)

Virtucon (127420) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457629)

That's because most people are sheep. They go along with it under the pretense that it makes them feel safe. Everybody knows that after 9/11 that the same kind of crap would never happen on an airline in the US. Why? Look at the dumbshit underwear bomber kid, look at the AA flight attendant who went nuts a couple of weeks ago. [dallasobserver.com] The passengers took matters into their own hands to help resolve the issue. People will get up and defend themselves so unless would-be attackers come heavily armed there won't be a repeat. What the TSA has done is create long lines and an illusion of security. I fly every week of the year and I can tell you that I have more of a chance of falling out of the sky from a flock of geese than I do a would-be terrorist on a plane. What I want to know is why the TSA isn't installing anti-aircraft guns around airports to take care of the bird menace! [avherald.com]

 

Re:Questions (0, Troll)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458037)

People will get up and defend themselves so unless would-be attackers come heavily armed there won't be a repeat.

The last few attempts have been bombs. When a terrorist gets up and goes into the lavatory, there is nobody else around him to notice that he's assembling and detonating a bomb. Yes, for aircraft takeover attempts, the passengers will use what few defensive and offensive weapons they can make to stop the takeover, but bombs are a different story. Had the shoe bomber been smart enough to go to the bathroom before trying to light his shoes off, he might have been successful.

What I want to know is why the TSA isn't installing anti-aircraft guns around airports to take care of the bird menace!

Because birds aren't aircraft?

But I understand what you are trying to say. Airports with bird problems do. Like this [bird-x.com] , or this. [birdbusters.com] The problem is talked about here [tc.gc.ca] , for just one example.

Even so, the conservationists are often opposed to such things, saying the birds have the right to be there and yada yada yada and if a plane runs into one it's the planes fault.

Re:Questions (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458127)

That's because most people are sheep.

What an original idea! You sir, have proven that you are not a sheep!

Re:Questions (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457677)

There shouldn't be any screening on domestic flights, just as there's no screening if I drive my car cross-country (and then drive it into a Federal Reserve and blow it up). We have to maintain at least SOME of our rights, including the right to travel wherever we wish internal to the U.S. border.

Re:Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457701)

Sounds like there needs to be more security on the roads. TSA checkpoints on all State borders!

Re:Questions (5, Informative)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457755)

How does the USA like it's foreign tourist trade now that it's dropped off a cliff?

I'd like to fact check that statement. It's a shame that the government doesn't keep track of those numbers. Oh wait... they totally do! [doc.gov]

Let's see:
year - millions of visitors - change from previous year
2000 - 44.6 - n/a
2001 - 39.2 - -12%
2002 - 35.9 - -8%
2003 - 34.5 - -4%

Steep drop in the years following 9/11, but wait, what's this?

2004 - 38.2 - +11%
2005 - 41.1 - +8%
2006 - 43.5 - +6%
2007 - 48.4 - +11%
2008 - 50.5 - +4%
2009 - 54.9 - +9%
2010 - 59.7 - +9%
2011 - 62.3 - +4%

Wow, US tourism is absolutely booming! That's an increase of at least 4% (average of 8%) every year for nearly a decade! That greatly exceeds the world's average birth rate, especially when you consider that the birth rate is lower in places where most tourists come from. In light of these numbers, perhaps you'd like to reconsider your position?

Re:Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458057)

What these figures do not disclose is what percentage of these "visitors" are illegal aliens, which part are new Al Qaeda / CIA / Special Forces trainees (the "Farm", & "School of the Americas"), and which part are foreign troops training for USA "crowd control" and FEMA camp "operations".

The USA government puts USA citizens through far more rigorous security checks than illegal aliens slipping through the USA's porous borders. The TSA has little to do with actual "national security" and a lot more to do with conditioning citizens to the establishment of martial law / police state.

Considering that the USA has military installations in at least 120 countries, and "kinetic actions" scheduled for or already under way in at least 8 countries, there have to be many "expatriates" undergoing appropriate "training & indoctrination" within USA borders. I doubt if most of these have available free time to visit USA tourist traps.

Foreign troops routinely rotate into the USA for combined operations training, and not limited to only an expanded NATO which has absorbed former Warsaw Pact nations.

When you can come up with better clarification of the demographics of "visitors" to the USA, I might be inclined to alter my opinion.

Re:Questions (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457781)

I wouldn't ask the second question unless I had numbers showing it HAS dropped off a cliff, otherwise you might undermine your point. The first question could be framed a bit better too: "Is it right to touch US citizens all over their body - regardless of how young they are - in the name of security theater?".

I look at it this way... (4, Funny)

Virtucon (127420) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457427)

By opting out from the stupid Nudeo Scan 5000s I get two great benefits. First I get free bag service through security and second I get a free bump/wart/growth check on a weekly basis. All of this courtesy of the TSA. Besides I keep an otherwise un-employable person employed and I keep the latex glove industry in business.

Re:I look at it this way... (1)

Mitreya (579078) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457601)

By opting out from the stupid Nudeo Scan 5000s I get two great benefits.

You forget the 3rd bonus benefit:
Waiting for an available TSA screener and wondering if anyone is going to abscond with your out-of-the-bag laptop on the other side.

Re:I look at it this way... (1)

Virtucon (127420) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457687)

That's why I keep my wallet on me when I go through that. Even though I try to keep an eye on things there's always a chance but as soon as I walk past the scanner I try to locate my stuff and then have my man servant (TSA agent) handle the bags. It's not perfect. I then get to watch as the frustrated TSA agent then has to take my wallet and walk it over to the xray machine, put it in a little tray, watch it go through, then pick it up and bring it back to me.

Re:I look at it this way... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457611)

By opting out from the stupid Nudeo Scan 5000s I get two great benefits. First I get free bag service through security and second I get a free bump/wart/growth check on a weekly basis. All of this courtesy of the TSA. Besides I keep an otherwise un-employable person employed and I keep the latex glove industry in business.

How about if they start doing colonoscopies? It's one of the most underused cancer screening tools in our toolbox (for fairly obvious reasons), but then you could improve YOUR health and the safety of the country. After the procedure, you'd be so groggy you wouldn't care about the lousy service on the plane or the lack of food.

Full of win!

Re:I look at it this way... (1)

Virtucon (127420) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457669)

Cripes! that would be great! Then I could cancel my health insurance too!

Re:I look at it this way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458055)

Side benefit: The cost wouldn't be counted towards the health care sector anymore! Brilliant!

Re:I look at it this way... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458067)

Now that's a shitty idea. I'm not even talking about some idiot with the fine motor skills of the average autist handing a delicate area of my body, I dread how they'd clean the equipment. I mean, have you taken a look at the average TSA goon lately? Now think that the average person cleans himself usually better than his tools and reconsider!

There is some value in theater (5, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457439)

The thing that annoys me about the anti-security theater rant, is that in fact there is a non-zero value even to security theater.

Yes you CAN get past screen checkpoints as we have them. But it does not mean we should give them up totally. Even just a veneer of security can be enough to dissuade a lot of people from trying something, or to make them nervous enough they screw up. It's enough of a deterrent that a lot of people simply will not try who might be convinced otherwise, because signing up to die in a glorious explosion is one thing but being set up to rot in jail is quite another and without honor.

That said, the TSA as-is has gone way, way too far. We should have an immediate jump back to pre-9/11 security screenings, meaning we all get to keep shoes, bring water, and walk only through metal detectors, not the stupid body scanners that mean you cannot even keep a kleenex in your pocket but you can strap a gun to the side of your body.

I do not care about the remote chance of a plane being blown up in the air, and there is no way hijacking a plane will succeed any more. Sure they could blow up a plane over a city but that's not going to take out a building as they would like to do. So let us have some dignity and easier passage on to our plane again. Heck, let loved ones meet you at the gate instead of shutting down the airport if one guy gets through the line with an unregistered kleenex by accident.

Re:There is some value in theater (1)

Zorque (894011) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457469)

I agree, studies have shown people will commit far less crime if they feel they're being watched in some way (including by unobtrusive methods such as billboards with pictures of eyes on them). Security theater isn't entirely worthless and there are ways of doing it without invading people's privacy.

Re:There is some value in theater (1)

devitto (230479) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457791)

Oh dear, you are wrong - Theatre is BY DEFINITION harmful - it is NOT like security-through-obscurity, or deterrents.

Cameras are deterants, and reduce unwelcome behavior - fact.
Theatre is like changing the graphs to indicate 'crime is reducing' - it prevents people from making correct decisions.

Re:There is some value in theater (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457475)

The thing that annoys me about the anti-security theater rant, is that in fact there is a non-zero value even to security theater.

If people are aware that it's security theater, I doubt it would make much of a difference.

It's enough of a deterrent that a lot of people simply will not try who might be convinced otherwise

I have no idea how anyone could possibly know that a "lot" of people were deterred by the security theater.

Re:There is some value in theater (1)

devitto (230479) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457853)

Though @cheekyjohnson makes good points, the fact is that Security Theatre is not a risk deterrant, like cameras or handguns.
Deterrents are perfectly well understood and accepted risk reduction techniques.

Security Theatre's aim is to mislead those at risk into believing security is better than it is - and to fool them into making poor judgement.

A major risk after 9/11 was that people wouldn't want to fly, so extra security checks at that time were effective against terrorism, and reasonable deterrants.

Now the Security Theatre measures taken are almost entirely ineffective, but portrayed as highly effective, leaving people at the same level of risk, but unable to judge the true level.

Re:There is some value in theater (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457509)

Yes, there's non-zero value to having some visible security. I would argue that the security checkpoints aren't useful at providing visible security, though; the screeners are not even armed. They're about as relevant to security as the bag checkers on your way out of Fry's. If someone gets caught, they can simply run away, and there's probably a pretty good chance they'd make it to a car waiting for them curbside.

Want to make people honestly feel safer? Station armed national guard or actual police at every checkpoint like they did right after 9/11. Then ditch the body scanners in lieu of either metal detectors or nothing at all, and perform a cursory X-ray of people's bags. Train the national guard troops to make eye contact with every passenger. That would be about a thousand times more effective at making people feel safer and a billion times more effective at scaring the bejeezus out of would-be attackers than what they're doing now, all while being a lot less invasive for legitimate travelers.

Re:There is some value in theater (0)

tirerim (1108567) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457587)

Less invasive, yes. Personally, though, I'm pretty uncomfortable around people with guns, since they tend to want to use them. I don't want to get shot just because some nervous private thinks I look "suspicious".

Re:There is some value in theater (2)

mrbester (200927) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457655)

Welcome to Brighton when the Labour Party holds their annual conference. Armed police walking around a large part of what is probably the most liberal and laid back city in UK doesn't make any tourist or resident feel safer.

Re:There is some value in theater (1)

devitto (230479) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457887)

I went to bton.ac.uk and now live in Bournemouth - home of the Conservative annual conference, so I know what you're talking about.

However those armed cops are mostly to ensure that ram-raids of suicide bombers don't get through, and to make sure that armed cops are immediately to hand, if needed.

Obviously, they didn't stop The Grand getting blown up with the Prime Minister and entire ruling party inside - but that's not why they are there.

Anyways, it's always funny watching hot-hatches U-turn well before the checkpoints :-)

Re:There is some value in theater (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457685)

Rubber bullets, tasers, whatever. They don't necessarily have to be lethally armed.

Re:There is some value in theater (1)

Anyd (625939) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458031)

Don't taze me bro!

But seriously... Given the police's current lack of discretion with tasers, pepper spray, etc., I don't think I want the TSA armed with them.

Re:There is some value in theater (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457631)

Also, security theater may be useful to a limited degree, but security theater that makes people feel violated is unacceptable. If you're going to cross those sorts of lines as the TSA does every day, there had damn well be a damn good reason, and the public has a right to know in detail what that reason is. That means we expect:

  • a regularly updated list of terror plots successfully foiled or scared off by this invasion of our privacy,
  • a detailed accounting of who benefits financially from the purchase of new security equipment, along with a complete breakdown of any financial or interpersonal relationships between them or their lobbyists and the people who made the purchasing decisions (including any and all stock held by anyone involved in the decisions), and
  • a regularly scheduled and televised review board meeting in which the public can present their grievances and obtain vengeance^Wjustice^Wredress.

Anything less than all of the above is a gross abrogation of the government's responsibility to protect the public good.

Re:There is some value in theater (1)

devitto (230479) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457891)

No - Security Theatre is always harmful, by definition. Deterrents, are a different kind of thing.

Re:There is some value in theater (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457649)

Yeah. Reassign the miliotary forces that are out of the country fighting right now to the airports etc would have been far more cost effective.

Re:There is some value in theater (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457705)

Oh come on. Those were kids. They were bored. If their firearms were loaded, they were more dangerous to everyone than the putative terrorists. If you want to scare people, use the Israeli method. Guys in civilian clothes and Uzis that have clearly been used and who are wandering around with pained, hostile looks. That and the jeeps with recoiless rifles that greet you on the tarmac. Nothing says security like a jeep full of soldiers and a big ol gun.

No halfway measures.

Re:There is some value in theater (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457877)

They'd need to remodel airports for this, or deploy a lot more guards than they did after 9/11. My first reaction when I saw those guys right after 9/11 was something along the lines of: Now terrorists don't need to bring a gun through security, they can just shank a guard and steal theirs.

Re:There is some value in theater (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458087)

They're about as relevant to security as the bag checkers on your way out of Fry's. If someone gets caught, they can simply run away, and there's probably a pretty good chance they'd make it to a car waiting for them curbside.

Are you suggesting that the potential terrorist wearing a bomb be shot in the back when attempting to run away?

Hopefully, they'd wait for him to get in the car and far away from the crowds of people before they'd choke off his exit and potentially shoot him (or detonate him).

Re:There is some value in theater (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457599)

We should have an immediate jump back to pre-9/11 security screenings, meaning we all get to keep shoes, bring water, and walk only through metal detectors, not the stupid body scanners that mean you cannot even keep a kleenex in your pocket but you can strap a gun to the side of your body.

I do not care about the remote chance of a plane being blown up in the air, and there is no way hijacking a plane will succeed any more

Didn't we say in the pre-9/11 days that you couldn't hijack a plane? Or do we go back to pre-9/11 security screenings until $DISASTER takes place? Kinda like how parent's tell their kids, "If you behave for 5 hours you can have your TV privileges back" I can see it now, "If you don't blow up a plane for 5years, we'll take away the metal detectors and body scanners."

Re:There is some value in theater (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457733)

Didn't we say in the pre-9/11 days that you couldn't hijack a plane?

To my knowledge, nobody said that you couldn't hijack a plane before 9/11. It was always possible, and still is. The assumption was that if a hijacker came on board with a knife, the people would pummel him/her, whereas a gun was considerably more lethal. Thus, they protected against the latter and not the former. What they didn't count on was thirty years of complacency brought about by a lack of incidents.

Or do we go back to pre-9/11 security screenings until $DISASTER takes place?

No, we go back to pre-9/11 security screenings, period, even after disasters take place. When you can prove that a newer screening technology significantly improves security without fundamentally invading the privacy of the people being screened, we'll consider it. Short of such proof, we must assume that the new systems aren't actually making us safer, which means that A. we should not be spending millions of dollars every year on them, and B. we should not be subjected to the invasion of privacy that they cause.

Re:There is some value in theater (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457837)

The assumption was that if a hijacker came on board with a knife, the people would pummel him/her, whereas a gun was considerably more lethal

Completely incorrect. The assumption - hell, the mandate - was that if a hijacker came on board with a knife, the people would keep calm, remain in their seats, and hope they were getting a free holiday in a Caribbean island instead of a free holiday in Djbouti.

No, we go back to pre-9/11 security screenings, period, even after disasters take place.

Debatable. The direct threat of 9/11 - a bunch of dickheads with boxcutters - was permanently and near-instantly solved by way of reinforced cockpit doors. As for the scary imagined threats that get unconstitutional agencies the funding that plants crave, well - there are plenty of effective measures (oh hai, explosives-seeking dogs) that can be taken, that don't involve surrendering bottles of shampoo.

But that's assuming that they don't hate us for our soft, manageable hair. They totally do. I mean, they generally live in arid desert areas with no humidity, as I understand it.

Re:There is some value in theater (2)

chrismcb (983081) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457727)

The thing that annoys me about the anti-security theater rant, is that in fact there is a non-zero value even to security theater.

But is it worth the time and the money and the safety risk of standing in line next to a garbage can full of explosives?
Most people lock their front door, although that does pretty much nothing to stop a real thief. But the risk and inconvenience is low compared to the reward. The TSA security is expensive in both time and money. And there is actual risk involved in going through the checkpoint. But the risk that is exposed if TSA doesn't exist is actually fairly low.
You don't go through security when you hop on a train or a bus. Nor when you go to the mall. I went to a basketball game last week and had my bag checked, mainly cause they wanted to make sure I didn't bring in a nice cheap bottle of water.
But I don't see anyone claiming they want security theatre for these things. Because the risk is NOT high enough. It isn't for a plane flight either.

Re:There is some value in theater (1)

devitto (230479) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457749)

Oh dear, you are wrong - Theatre is BY DEFINITION harmful - it is NOT like security-through-obscurity, or deterrents.

Theatre is where the objective is to deceive - to make people believe they are secure, when they are not.

That means you can't reasonably make judgement calls, or drive appropraite changes.

Re:There is some value in theater (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457797)

A very good point. So the question is, "How much theater are we buying for the price of letting people recruited through pizza box ads touch our genitals?"

Re:There is some value in theater (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457945)

The simple fact is the TSA's power is vastly over-reaching.

Leaving out the lengthy argument about belief and idea based motivations, there are two types of terrorists: Domestic and International.

With domestic terrorists, your potential list is every citizen in the country. That is the way a fairly open society works. It exists somewhere between totalitarianism, and anarchy. We're somewhere in the middle, where specific sectors of society that shift towards one of the other at any given time. With regard to the TSA, it's to the former, and rapidly. You could profile every citizen, but we have laws against that. You're dealing with the citizenry here, and allowing them to move freely about the country IS a right, despite whatever recent legal wrangling has been wrought out of fear. Stripping ones ability to travel down to the layer of skin under your clothing is a wholesale advertisement that, not only do we not know what we're doing, we don't expect you to know any better either. The level of absurdity for current TSA screening practices is not only criminal, is historically laughable.

With International terrorists, we have a very real physical boundary. It's called the US border, and depending on how you look at it, you have several $100 Billion dollars expended annually on it to keep it safe. Simple fact is, if a foreign citizen(see non-US citizen) bypasses all the roadblocks we've put in place over the years with the intent to do harm on US soil (and with an airplane no less), against all those vasts sums of money going to Intelligence agencies, physical security, and military mobilization, then our Domestic Security Policy has failed in a manner that needs to be wholly burned and reborn.

What's even worse is that domestic agencies goad potential suspects, an absurd concept in and of itself, into breaking purported 'Terrorism' Laws in order to drum up support that the threat is still on-going and in your backyard. It's not entrapment, if the Government tricks you into it but you never carry out the act, right?

With regard to flight travel, no terrorist in their right mind would try and hijack a US airplane now. A green light has essentially been put in place for any air traveler to thwart a would be hi-jacking. Not only would it be thwarted by passengers, there would be cocktails served right after the hi-jacker was stomped into oblivion! And for other methods of disrupting flight, either by detonations or commandeering? You need only look to how secure your airport is for that answer. Here's a clue: IT'S SWISS CHEESE! The only thing I can say about International cargo container security and the US North and Southern borders, is this: SWISS CHEESE!

The simple fact is, there are ways to do effective Airport and Airplane security. We presently, aren't doing them. The Government has provided the funds, but politics and back-room handshakes have insured they go to key people who intend on implementing policies that provide neither safety, nor security, but make certain Corporations rich (see Chertoff Group). And in some cases, likely harm those providing said security theater as well as those traveling. I'm looking at you, backscatter X-ray machines, uncertified by NIST, and AMA. It also doesn't help that the DHS has set the bar so low for potential employees, that even Felons aren't off the list as screeners. Remember though, that travelers are the problem. Not security personnel.

It's been said, you deserve the Government elect. We don't deserve security theater and physical intrusion to the point of molestation while traveling. The only thing I can see we deserve out of this, is to be called out for allowing it to continue as long as it has!

Re:There is some value in theater (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458089)

That is the case if the criminals don't know that the measures are fully and utterly ineffective. An empty shell of a security cam, known by criminals to be an empty shell, doesn't stop a single criminal, but it might make the average honest person not knowing it less vigilant because he feels protected.

According to the committee's web page ... (1)

jimhill (7277) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457463)

Schneier will _not_ be testifying. Sorry, nerdlingers.

Re:According to the committee's web page ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457497)

Guess someone on the committee discovered that Schneier is completely opposed to the TSA in its current and probably future forms...

My experience (5, Funny)

pseudofrog (570061) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457467)

TSA agents harassed, beat, and murdered me. I would have to rate my experince as "less than satisfactory."

Re:My experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457499)

But did they give you the complimentary reach around beforehand?

Re:My experience (2)

Greystripe (1985692) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457815)

Duh he can't tell you that, he's dead remember?

Re:My experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457585)

*twitch* So want to mod informative...

Re:My experience (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457805)

I'd have to give Facebook some pretty big props for giving you access despite being dead. Amazing what you can accomplish with php and a bit of elbow grease.

Re:My experience (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458095)

You have to be brain dead to use it, so why not people who are a step further along?

And the hearings will be in a camp in Alaska? (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457503)

A special camp, for political re education. And a little gold mining. By hand.

stories wanted (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457547)

We want your stories of the TSA. We won't actually do anything, but we want a good laugh. Now strip naked and get on the probulator, plebs.

Do you really expect (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457551)

Intelligent thoughtful questions that illuminate the issues from the House in this polarized election cycle. I watch Cspan and so see hearings without any media distortion and am disgusted at the posturing and speachifying and browbeating of witnesses that goes on under the guise of hearings (both "sides"). How we expect competent people to serve in any administration only to be abused in the way they are escapes me.

TSA comment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457571)

they suck camel dick.what else do they need to know? get rid of them and spend the money on something worthwhile, like children's books or a cure for cancer...

Here's my story (2, Interesting)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457573)

I've flown once since 9/11. Helped a friend move across the country then flew home. While I didn't exactly jet all over the world before the TSA was created, I've gone from flying every couple of years to flying once per decade and the main reason for that decline in flying has been the bullshit security theater of the TSA. Take my shoes off and put them in a tray? What the hell for? You can't run a sniffer over them while they're on my feet? When presented with absurdity, I'm wired to decline to participate and the TSA has provided plenty of absurdity. Doesn't mean I'll never fly again but I'll need a good reason.

As a side note... (1)

idbeholda (2405958) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457575)

They could potentially save a lot of ink on the printouts if they just change the title to "TSA: Effective Security Theater".

My Security Hero (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457617)

Schneier was interviewed on 60 minutes a while back regarding this very issue. I love watching this guy talk about anything security related! Anyway here's the video segment for it:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5205160n

- stoops

neat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457657)

I'm a former Marine (former, not ex-, it's important in this case) who's received a bunch of neat, shiny pieces of metal and string. I'm also not allowed to fly in the United States because I've refused to walk through the scanners and I refused an enhanced pat-down. I also don't have a facebook account. So fuck me. I wish I'd never fought for this company. I'd originally meant to type country, but company seems a better description, to me. Idle, retarded musings, back to work.

Re:neat (0)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457711)

Hear, hear, soldier.

Biowarfare with Athlete's Foot Fungus (4, Funny)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457707)

Forcing millions and millions of people to walk barefoot over the same carpet year after year promotes super-accelerated evolution of athlete's foot fungus and has helped spread it throughout the world. TSA is therefore aiding and abetting bio-terrorism, and should be immediately shut down as specified by Patriot Acts 1 and 2.

Re:Biowarfare with Athlete's Foot Fungus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458051)

Yes, and millions and millions of people using mouthwash every day promotes super-accelerated evolution of cavity causing bacteria. What's your point?

Re:Biowarfare with Athlete's Foot Fungus (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 2 years ago | (#39458123)

The point, not present in the mouthwash example, is that the carpet contains samples from millions of different strains of the same species. They will combine and recombine their genes, and those that are most virulent will survive longer and spread more widely. It's the massively shared sample collection and distribution device (the carpet) that's the problem.

Scanned and THEN felt up (1)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457825)

Here's my story. I went through the TOTALLY-HEALTHY scanner that has no negative effects whatsoever, then was still felt up. Thankfully it was only above the belt. It was enough to turn me off flying except when that was the only viable option, which I have actively worked to avoid.

If they keep TSA (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 2 years ago | (#39457843)

Then Congress has to rename it Clown Security Theater and make the agents wear red plastic noses.

My experience (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457935)

I've flown a fair amount since 9/11. It's a literal pain in my ass. The last time I flew, I declined the body scanner. Why? I honestly don't believe they've been tested well enough, and I'm not about to put my health at risk. This means, of course, that they scream "OPT OUT! OPT OUT!" in an attempt to embarrass you, and then they have to feel you up. Now, when I say feel you up, I fucking mean it! This hairless weirdo was trying to talk to me, clearly enjoying himself, as he's "checking" for weapons. He quite literally was shoving his thumb into my asshole. It was, to say the least, unpleasant. To be perfectly honest, I wanted to give him a quick knee to the face out of sheer reflex. It was fucked up. It was a violation of my rights. It was illegal.

Re:My experience (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39458003)

When Obama gets in to office he's sure to begin undoing the oppressive and intrusive shit from the Bush era.

High comedy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39457957)

Security theatre debated via democratic theatre. Like LOLZERZ Scoob, what will these jokers think of next?

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