What’s the Acronym for Thuggish Simple Airheads?

tsa-security-theaterCan you say TSA? We knew you could. We haven’t beaten on them since they advertised on pizza boxes for future traveler-gropers last month. (What’s next, Thunderbird bottles?)

And in the interests of fairness, we’ll give first point to the TSA. They make the utterly reasonable suggestion that we gun owners out to pull our heads out of the region of our anatomy we’ve been using as a head holster, and stop forgetting we’re carrying guns and breezing into the machines.

In 2005, 660 guns were confiscated nationwide. Last year, the number rose to 2,212 – nearly a four-fold increase.
“I think there’s a personal responsibility for any gun owner, that they ought be aware of the rules, where they can and can’t take it,” McCarthy says.

We can’t really argue with that. TSA 1: Humanity 0.

From here it goes downhill for the gropers.

Yes, They’re Gropers

TSA PervLast month, CBS discovered a gay TSA goon and his female enablers were doing what the TSA has always denied its gropers do, singling out attractive people for a lascivious groping that crossed the line into sexual assault. TSA Denver agent Chris Higgins watched a groping live, and he and higher-ups reviewed others on tape, and the groper and enablers admitted it, but the TSA bosses and Denver Deputy DA Bonnie Benedetti simply fired the perv and one of his lookouts (the other wasn’t punished at all). It’s not even the first time the Denver prosecutor has given a wink-and-a-nod to a TSA sexual assault perp. It’s funny how prosecutors lose interest in pursuing sexual assault when the perv is a fellow payroll patriots, eh?

Across the country other passengers have raised concerns over the years about TSA pat downs. But the recent case uncovered by CBS4 is more problematic for TSA since its own employee blew the whistle on the practice, a supervisor observed it happening, the agency fired the employees, and the female screener who was fired admitted to the fondling conspiracy.

No one was held accountable. At TSA, no one ever is held accountable. It gives a whole new meaning to the expression, “Your ass is mine.”

TechDirt has the details on how they did it.

The plan involved him signalling to a colleague who was working the scanning computer. That agent would tell the computer that the individual being scanned was female, which apparently would set off an “anomaly” alert for the groin area, allowing the male TSA agent to conduct a “pat down” of that area. Leaving aside the fact that these computers even have “male” and “female” settings and it can determine an “anomaly in the genital area” if they don’t match — this kind of thing was exactlywhat many insisted was going to happen when the TSA put in place these advanced screening procedures.

And also, the details on how the TSA was able to torpedo the criminal investigation, as they routinely do:

Specifically, the TSA was first told about this scheme on November 18th of 2014. First, it took nearly two months for the TSA to do anything about it, and it did not contact the police during this time. Instead, on Feburary 9th, TSA investigator Chris Higgins observed the screening area and saw the signal/button push/grope of the genitals. Higgins made no attempt to speak with or identify the victim of this assault (this is important). Instead, he just spoke with the two TSA agents who were terminated at some later time (exact date not clearly indicated). The Denver police were not told about any of this until over a month later, on March 19th, 2015, at which point they noted that without a named “victim” there wasn’t much they could do.

In other words, the soi-disant “investigator,” Higgins, deliberately set the whole thing up so his groping buddy was de facto immune to prosecution. Even though there were at least three actively involved in the groping conspiracy, and several layers of enablers who got the perv off, we’ll be ultra-charitable and just count this as 1. TSA 1, Humanity 1.

Really, Gropers

tsa checkpointThe TSA Watch blog (if there were no such thing, it would have to be invented) notes that Judicial Watch has received a partial FOIA response (for which JW had to sue the TSA, who dragged their feet for almost a year before producing these public records). These records mostly document incidents of TSA groping and sexual assault, which is very common and seldom if ever punished. The partial response ran to 58 pages of TSA Pervs, with most substantive data redacted. The TSA has redacted the names of its sexual assault perps, including the one that hit a man so hard in the testicle (“testical” in TSA 70-IQ spelling) that he cried out, and the one that groped an elderly cancer patient and her colostomy bag. Sick, sick, sick people homunculi, all of them.

Even though there are 58 pp. of secret (and unpunished! TSA means never having to say you’re sorry) gropers, we’ll be charitable again: TSA 1, Humanity 2.

And They Lose their IDs in Atlanta, and Dallas-Fort Worth

NBC 5 in DFW found a few… thousand… missing badges (along with TSA uniforms, FFDO credentials, and all kinds of stuff lost, strayed or stolen at various airports).

An exclusive NBC 5 investigation found hundreds and perhaps even thousands of airport security badges, known as Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) badges, are unaccounted for across the country.
NBC 5 Investigates requested records from some of the nation’s largest airports asking how many SIDA badges are unaccounted for.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport sent a response saying more than 1,400 badges were lost or stolen over approximately two years.

So, the TSA moved quickly to follow up, right? Ha, ha. This is the TSA we’re talking about. It moved quickly to cover up.

TSA blocks access to missing badge records after NBC 5 Investigates’ request….

Before NBC 5 Investigates could get missing ID badge information from other airports, like Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the Transportation Security Administration stepped in and said we couldn’t have those numbers.

The TSA said it is security sensitive information and they don’t want to say just how often airport ID’s go missing at each airport.

Note that TSA management didn’t find the lost, strayed or stolen badges, a news agency did, after TSA management neglected the absentee badges for years. 

We’ve established a precedent of only counting all the wrongdoing in one story as 1, so: TSA 1, Humanity 2.

OK, so the DFW TSA droids are reckless with their IDs, but it surely isn’t happening elsewhere, is it?

And They Lose their IDs in San Diego

Says the national NBC site and NBC San Diego, following up on the DFW story.

[M]ore than 270 badges went missing at the San Diego International Airport in the last two years.

And some of those wayward badges were not reported for weeks or months — meaning they were not quickly deactivated.

Workers are supposed to report a missing badge within 24 hours, and the San Diego airport authority said it plans to do more to ensure that rule is followed.

Gee, but we’re sure that’s not happening anywhere else, because TSA supervision and management is made up of the members of this outfit singled out by .gov for promotion! TSA 1, Humanity 3.

And They Swear By Their Machines, But Don’t Know if They Work

During the controversy over what TSA calls Advanced Imaging Technology and what the rest of us know as nekkid scanners (like the one made by the British pioneer of the technology, Rapescan), you couldn’t crack a newspaper without some TSA panjandrum of perversity standing by the machines with unqualified statements of support. Based on? It turns out, zip. The Washington Times:

TSA cannot adequately oversee the maintenance of equipment routinely used to screen passengers and their baggage as they travel to and from various airports throughout the country, the report states.

“Because TSA does not adequately oversee equipment maintenance, it cannot be assured that routine preventative maintenance is performed or that equipment is repaired and ready for operational use,” the report said. “Without diligent oversight … TSA risks shortening equipment life and incurring costs to replace equipment.”

Hey, sophisticated digital gear don’t need no stinkin’ PM, does it? Well, not in TSA-land.

That makes it: TSA 1, Humanity 4.

And the GAO Finds Plenty of Fail

Let’s consider some of this year’s GAO reports. The first is the one the Washington Times keys on above.

GAO 15-559 T published 13 May 15

Errors in screening system, errors in personnel performance, no concrete plan to address them.  And there’s this:

GAO found that TSA performance assessments of certain full-body scanners used to screen passengers at airports did not account for all factors affecting the systems.

Meaning? The TSA “tested” the systems without the software that de-pervs the body images turned on, and without evaluating the operators’ skills (or, being TSA, lack of the same). In plain English, the tests of the Rapescan and backscatter machines are fraudulent.

GAO-15-465 T published 25 Mar 15

TSA implemented it’s “Managed Inclusion” and “TSA Pre√” programs with no plan for evaluating them, and no scientific rigor in the evaluation; so-called testing of the Behavioral Detection Officer witch-doctors and TSA canines is similarly flawed, or as GAO puts it, doesn’t “adhere to established evaluation design practices”. Of course not: the results are command-defined a priori; they can’t have data screwing up their program.

GAO-15-261 published 4 Feb 15

It turns out that when TSA decides to add or remove items from its Prohibited List (the stuff like your bottle of shampoo that’s verboten in the cabin), they don’t actually do a risk assessment most of the time, and when they do, they may ignore it. They also don’t ask mere stakeholders like pilots, flight attendants, airline executives, or actual security professionals for input into these decisions, even though somebody set them up a committee of folks like that. Hey, they are the TSA. Proud holders of GEDs and defenders of the public from anyone they feel like groping and anything they feel like banning.

So here we are with: TSA 1, Humanity 7. (Each GSA report deserves its own number).

The Summing-Up

The employees of the TSA are the sweepings of the gutters, the scum of the earth, the refuse of the prison system. If you see that agency listed on a resume, you can safely assume that the person is a pervert, a thief, a pedophile, or probably all three.

As we have said once or twice before, “No one good, decent, honest, intelligent, competent, moral or ethical has ever been employed by TSA in any capacity whatsoever.”


10 thoughts on “What’s the Acronym for Thuggish Simple Airheads?

  1. emdfl

    “…sweepings of the gutter, scum of the earth…” in other words typical three-letter governmental agency employees.{except for the DSS(Dip. Sec. Ser.)} – we all be good; or at least we not as bad as the other agencies. I haven’t flown since I retired in 2009 and have no plans to ever do so again.

  2. Eric

    “Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport sent a response saying more than 1,400 badges were lost or stolen over approximately two years.”

    So basically they lost 2 badges per day. PER DAY. Holy smokes. Even it the badge only gets you access to the employee toilet, holy cow.

  3. John Distai

    I read the story of the groping duo several months ago. One of the questions that popped into my mind was “why did this woman go along with this?” And then a friend of mine reminded me of the answer – Intelligence isn’t evenly distributed. It follows a normal curve. We may be accustomed to being in and interacting with those in the higher intelligence quartiles, but others, not so much. The TSA employees must be in the lower quartiles.

    I’ve often wondered if the Army is arranged similarly, with SF and other SMU being staffed with the upper quartiles of that distribution, and treated accordingly.

    1. Hognose Post author

      The military has a test called the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery that contains numerous subtests. There is an overall ASVAB score (AFQT) which is often given as a percentile. Most SF soldiers are in the high 90s, but not all. Every decade or two a large sample group of yout’s takes the test, and it’s renormed to keep it viable. (The test is revised, too. Some of the tests I took back in the 70s are gone. One showed all kinds of exotic tools — I’d probably max it now, but not pudgy college boy. It’s gone now, regardless). This also places the recruit in a Mental Category, which run from I (93%ile up) to V (below 10th percentile). Cat V, unenlistables, once went to 16th percentile but now there are two ranges of Cat IV below 20% that are sometimes enlisted (especially if they have a HS diploma; only <9th percentile is Cat V). Most Army enlistees fall in Cats II and III, they're from about the 31st to 92nd percentile.

      Most SF soldiers are Cat I (it's required for SF Babies/18X). As a result, they can struggle dealing with Big Green, which is, as Tom Lehrer noted, "the only equal-opportunity employer, not just for race, creed or class, but also for ability.” CAT IVs seem clinically retarded to us (they’re not, they’re just slow. Cat Vs are retarded).

      Each service does different stuff with the subtest scores. The Army has 10 or so different weightings of the test. One subtest is even more closely equivalent to an IQ test, especially towards the median, and that is the General Technical or GT score. It’s basically just your scores for mathematical and verbal reasoning. The higher your GT score, the more enlistment options are open to you. Like a Stanford-Binet or what have you, median is 100. Standard Deviation is about 16 IIRC, so the tails of the distro are slightly compressed compared to the Stanford-Binet. Cutoff for OCS (assuming college grad) is 105, which doesn’t exclude many college grads. Cutoff for SF was 110, a commission on minority underrepresentation in SOF got it lowered to 105 and eliminated the swim test as a go/no go element. Colin Powell was involved in that between his retirement as a GO and his stint at State. I think the standards have reverted; they didn’t get any more minority grads with the lower standard, they got a lot of slightly dimmer white guys who flunked out.

      Standard’s actually a little higher for an 18X candidate joining the Army than for an officer or NCO seeking to branch in.

      Some officers don’t adapt well to leading men smarter than they are. Most do. (Doesn’t matter how bright you are, there’s going to be guys in Group smarter than you. Even when your teammates think you’re That Guy, you meet dudes whose thinking tackle makes you feel dim indeed).

      What do the services do with the slower guys? I was surprised to hear the USMC puts them in Infantry; the Army requires grunts to have a CO (combat subtest) of a minimum of 90. It’s not a requirement for SF, except weapons and demo guys, but most SF guys are well over 100 on CO, also. But grunts have to be no lower than -1SD of average, basically. The -2SD knuckleheads wind up in personnel administration and other clerical fields, cooks, and as ammunition storage guys. (“Bonzo lift 203mm shell!”)

      The Army is pretty good at getting square pegs into square holes. It is also (as are all the other services) extremely good a salvaging talent that “did not live up to potential” in HS or College. And then there are the misfits. Low functioning misfits get chaptered out, high functioning misfits volunteer for SF.

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  5. Captain Mike

    I find these stories about TSA groping to be very depressing and harmful to my self esteem.
    I have been through TSA security dozens of times and have never been felt up or assaulted in any way..
    Is there something the wrong with me?
    Why am I not getting singled out, its not fair.
    Im a good looking guy, I know because my Mom told me I am.;)

  6. Mike_C

    While the overall TSA culture appears to be one of dysfunction (generally at best semi-competent people performing largely useless security-theater – as opposed to actually security-enhancing – tasks, poorly at that) I’d be interested to learn about local differences. Living in the Boston area (alas) I fly out of Boston Logan (BOS), Manchester, NH (MHT) and T.F. Green in Providence (PVD), depending on schedule and cost. Of the three, MHT is by far the most pleasant yet professional, while BOS is the worst in terms of TSA attitude and projected competence. PVD is in-between, in terms of TSA performance and in size. By projected competence I mean do they have a professional demeanor, treat passengers with civility, appear focused on their tasks, and so forth. (I have no way of telling whether they are actually good at what they ostensibly do, but how one behaves and presents is often correlated with actual competence.)

    Are these differences a matter of local institutional culture, a function of what kind of people live nearby and thus get hired on as TSA at a particular site, or a function of the size of airport and hence number of TSA present (maybe small IS beautiful) or other reasons? I’ve noticed similar differences between national/international (generally bad) versus regional (not as bad), e.g. Denver (DIA) versus Colorado Springs (COS).

    That TSA employees mistreat passengers is bad, that the agency actively protects frank criminality (i.e. refusal to divulge identities of, much less prosecute) e.g. the Denver groper and his accomplice*, is appalling.

    * @ John Distai: While your friend is almost certainly correct regarding where the groper’s enabler falls on (the far left of) the intelligence curve, I would with respect point out that not knowing the difference between right and wrong in this particular situation would require the woman to be dumber than a squirrel. Stupidity is unlikely to be her problem (and it is certainly not an excuse either, for that matter). Lack of ethics and professionalism are at fault.

    @Captain Mike: I feel ya! (Figuratively.) Haven’t been groped myself either. Oh well, everything droops with age, I was told. What they didn’t tell me was that it would be my ego taking the worst beating! Incidentally, a while back I was stuck in a very slow TSA line at BOS behind a very attractive woman. We got to talking (read complaining*). Turned out she was from Texas, of Italian descent, and married to a big, tall Arabic guy who customarily wore baggy clothes with lots of pockets. She was given to close-fitting tops and knee-length skirts (i.e. few places to conceal objects). By her report, her husband NEVER got searched, while she was almost always searched, patted down very intimately by ostensibly female TSA employees. Sure enough, on this trip I saw her get taken aside and patted down. She was not on any security list** she knew of, it was probably because she’s a good looking woman. Not uncommon for an agent to ask for her phone number. (There’s professionalism for you!) All of it pissed her off, also pissed her husband off, for two reasons. One was, as he put it (she said), if they’re going to search someone, wouldn’t it make more sense to search the big scary-looking guy with lots of baggy pockets than the woman in snug clothes? The other reason should be obvious.

    *Complaining: Interesting reactions from our line-neighbors. Most looked equally pissed off and either remained stoic or nodded as they listened in. About a third looked fearful that we had the temerity to speak our minds. (Yes, I do know how to hold it in when necessary, but damned if I’m going to do it in my own country while engaged in lawful activity.)
    **Lists: A friend and colleague of mine has the same name as a known and “active” IRA member. On business trips together we’d have to allow an extra hour for security. Although a gigantic PITA that actually made some sense.

    1. Hognose Post author

      My experience with TSA in BOS and MHT tracks yours. I’ve flown into TF Green in a light plane, but never using the human mailing tube.

      Re: same name as an IRA guy. That’s half of Boston! The other half is the IRA guys.

  7. Lisa Simeone

    At TSA News (thanks for linking), we’re proud of being the civil liberties watchdog chronicling the abuses of the TSA since 2011 (and I’ve been doing it personally since 2009). It’s all volunteer — none of us gets paid — and these days, our writers are pretty much burnt out.

    Unfortunately, Americans have shown they’ll put up with anything to get on a plane. Even if “anything” is criminal, abusive, and just plain stupid. That’s why, after starting out with the best of intentions, I’ve been reduced to the occasional bout of schadenfreude when a TSA apologist gets abused. Paraphrasing Frederick Douglass, only by more and more and more people getting abused will anything change. And I don’t see that happening in my lifetime.

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