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Paul's Call To Abolish the TSA, One Year Later 353

Posted by timothy
from the inconsistency-every-single-time dept.
A year ago today, we noted that Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky called for the abolition of the Transportation Security Administration. It's now nearly 12 years since the hijacked-plane terror attacks of 2001; the TSA was created barely two months later, and has been (with various rules, procedures, and equipment, all of it controversial for reasons of privacy, safety, and efficacy) a major presence ever since at American commercial airports. "The American people shouldn't be subjected to harassment, groping, and other public humiliation simply to board an airplane," wrote Paul last year, and in June of 2012, he followed up by introducing two bills on the topic; the first calling for a "bill of rights" for air travelers, the other for privatizing airport screening practices. Neither bill went far. Should they have? Libertarian-leaning Paul did not succeed in knocking back the TSA, never mind privatizing its functions (currently funded at nearly $8 billion annually), though some of the things called for in his bill of rights are manifest now at least in muted form. (Very young passengers, as well as elderly passengers, face less stringent security requirements, for instance, and TSA has ended its prohibition of certain items aboard planes.) Whether you're from the U.S. or not, what practical changes would you like to see implemented? What shouldn't be on the bill of rights for airplane passengers?
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Paul's Call To Abolish the TSA, One Year Later

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 04, 2013 @11:26AM (#43629321)

    Every time some disaster hits the US, we're going to see a big growth in the size and reach of government. In fact, I believe there are many politicians who salivate at the thought of catastrophe so they can go cry about the children on camera and create a new 3-letter tumor on our already unconstitutional government.

    • by Picass0 (147474) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @12:05PM (#43629561) Homepage Journal

      There is a saying in Washington "Never let a good disaster go to waste".

      If people haven't already spoken out in outrage "Never let this happen again!" it's easy enought to get polling data to justify a new power grab.

      Before 2001 nobody ever hear the US Govt use terms like "homeland". Now it's in everyday use. Homeland Security. I've always thought it sounded facist.

      • If you actually hear the quote in context [youtube.com] you'll realise Rahm Emanuel was primarily concerned with policy reform. He was pointing out how the 2009 financial crisis was proof that regulation needed to be fixed. In the same interview he also said "it's not an argument about big government versus small government, but about more effective government, so you actually are getting the bang for your buck that the taxpayers and all those who are putting money into it expect, whether that be in the area of educatio

        • by mr_shifty (202071) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @02:08PM (#43630317) Homepage

          There's little that is as dangerous as "effective government". The more gridlock, the better, I always say.

          • by robot256 (1635039)
            Good news! Your theory is being tested in practice as we speak. Hope you are pleased with the results.
          • I think you'd be happier with a government that was properly controlled and run by non-careerists. Lots of countries have highly effective and non-harmful governments.
            • "I think you'd be happier with a government that was properly controlled and run by non-careerists. Lots of countries have highly effective and non-harmful governments."

              I would not have so much trouble with careerists if they weren't also both elitist and corrupt. Get rid of those, and being a careerist isn't so bad.

        • by khallow (566160)

          He was pointing out how the 2009 financial crisis was proof that regulation needed to be fixed.

          No, it sounds just as bad in context. It's not like he's going to admit that he exploits crises for political gain. And merely having a crisis doesn't mean there's a regulation that needs to be fixed.

          so you actually are getting the bang for your buck that the taxpayers and all those who are putting money into it expect, whether that be in the area of education or healthcare."

          That's a highly unrealistic expectation. The only way I've seen that happen is by not having the federal government handle the task in the first place.

          But, hey, go ahead and take things out of context. I bet you can even make this look bad if you try hard enough.

          That's an easy one. It's another example of meddlesome bureaucrats interfering with human choice and freedom. Freedom means the freedom to make bad choices. That

      • by isorox (205688) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @03:24PM (#43630771) Homepage Journal

        Homeland Security. I've always thought it sounded facist.

        Yes of course it is. Sep 11th 2001 was the day america died. The fear that outsiders could actually harm you, something which hadn't happened for 60 years, got you all shitting your pants.

        Your vaunted bill of rights was torn up, and you didn't bother using the 2nd amendment to ensure the rest of them remained. All it takes is the word "terror" and you have marshal law, the 4th amendment is thrown out.

      • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Saturday May 04, 2013 @06:14PM (#43631629) Journal

        Watch The end of America [youtube.com] by Naomi wolf and you'll see they didn't just pick that name out of a hat, the government is using the same playbook that goes all the way back to Stalin, Franco, the crazy Austrian, etc. Her premise is that if you want to change a society from free to non free you can't just wave a magic wand, there are steps that have to be taken before you can make the shift but once those steps have been taken the shift can happen VERY fast.

        I urge everybody to watch that video as she compares what is happening now with historical examples and she doesn't use hyperbole, in fact i think she is being more conservative than she should be looking at the evidence, but she lays out the multi-stage roadmap on turning a free society into non free and its both enlightening and fucking scary.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 04, 2013 @11:30AM (#43629337)

    I mean, come on, this is a government that still administers polygraph examinations for its employees, eight decades after the guy [wikipedia.org] who sold it to the government admitted he made the device up to support his other lifelong work, the Wonder Woman [wikipedia.org] comic book.

    The TSA isn't going anywhere folks. Look all the fighting it took to force sequestration, and then take a step back and view it from a different perspective [youtube.com].

    • by flayzernax (1060680) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @11:45AM (#43629435)

      Not to mention the TSA now has mandate over much more then airport security. Wan't to work on a boat? Not as a U.S. Citizen, and not without much TSA paperwork. While I'm not going to say that the TSA grabbed this position, it was lumped onto them most likely by the Coast Guard who still has some involvement administering safety certifications.

      The bureaucracy this country has put into so many fields is ridiculous and the TSA is simple another part of it. Someone commented below that Rand wanted to privatize the TSA and not abolish it. This would be fine, if they didn't end up in the same monopolistic situations that telecoms, radio, music, movie (face it many fronts, few faces) and defense has.

      • *note that a privatized TSA would have to have as many or more legal restrictions or protocols then standard mall security guards which still have conflicts with civilian constitutional interests.

  • His own strawman (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 04, 2013 @11:34AM (#43629363)

    Rand Paul is the worst thing to happen to libertarians. Just as Communism became conflated with Stalinism, Libertarianism runs the risk of becoming known through the lens of Paulism, which is a horrible bastardization of their ideals. He opposes same sex marriage, opposes the right to choose and supports foreign intervention by the US military.

    Please don't let him claim the libertarian mantle or hold him up as an embodiment of your ideals - he's more destructive to the libertarian movement than all the political opponents there are. His position on the TSA is one of populist convenience, not one of principle.

    • by meta-monkey (321000) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @11:51AM (#43629465) Journal

      Your ideas are the worst thing to happen to civil discourse.

      I do not have to agree with everything someone believes in order to agree with them on some things. So we should find the things we agree on and work to enact those changes.

      I do not like the TSA, so when Paul says "let's shut that mother down," I say, "good idea, Rand-o! Lets do this shit!" And when Paul says, "drone strikes?! Blowin up Americans and shit? That ain't right!" I say, "I'd go further than not just blowing up Americans, and we should talk about not blowing up anybody, but it's a start. I'm with you on that!" But when he says "boooo gays!" or "abortions?! For legals? In hospitals and shit? Pssssh! Coat hangers and alleys for you!" I'd say, "naw, gotta disagree with you there buddy."

      It doesn't have to be all or nothing. On different topics, you can fully agree, partially agree, or disagree with no contradiction and maybe actually get some stuff you agree on accomplished! Or you can wait until only representatives you agree with on every last issue get elected. Which won't happen. So in the meantime I'm still getting groped every flight.

      • by JimMcc (31079) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @12:04PM (#43629553) Homepage

        I do not have to agree with everything someone believes in order to agree with them on some things.

        Well stated. If only we could somehow move there as a nation we'd be a lot better off. Unfortunately we're stuck with the Bushism "If you're not with us, you're against us."

    • by wagnerrp (1305589)

      opposes the right to choose

      Opposes the "right to choose".... what? Anything? Is he somehow against free will? Please elaborate on this for those not involved with your particular special interest.

  • by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @11:41AM (#43629411) Homepage
    He made no call to abolish the TSA. He made a call to privatize it. There is a world of difference. There would be even less oversight of the TSA if it were out of government hands. It's bad enough as it is. Privatizing it would just remove all accountability, not that there is that much now. If it really were a call to abolish the TSA, that is something that many freedom lovers could get behind.
    • by Zimluura (2543412) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @11:51AM (#43629467)

      iirc he made a call to abolish the tsa and privatize airport security...like how it was before the tsa.

      consider this though: if it were privatized, and their employees did something that violated your rights, you would have some realistic hope of legal recourse.

    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Saturday May 04, 2013 @11:55AM (#43629493) Homepage Journal

      . Privatizing it would just remove all accountability

      No. Assuming the privatization meant that the airlines would once again be responsible for their own security, the airlines would either compete on maximum invasiveness (anal cavity searches for all), maximum privacy (likely pre-2001 screening to meet their insurance carriers' requirements), maximum security (say, pressure-testing luggage and allowing small arms aboard), or some hybrid that people liked. The airlines would be directly accountable to their passengers and those passengers would provide their feedback by way of ticket purchases and relative pricing. The exception might be remote areas where one carrier has a monopoly at a local airport and there is no actual choice in commercial aviation.

      • by Mitreya (579078) <mitreya@gmail . c om> on Saturday May 04, 2013 @02:30PM (#43630465)

        The airlines would be directly accountable to their passengers and those passengers would provide their feedback by way of ticket purchases and relative pricing.

        Not to mention that pissing off a TSA agent is bound to send you to jail or get you on a no-fly list. However, if I pissed of a private security guard, the best they could do is maybe bar me from that particular airport.

    • Except as a private company, the people doing the screening would be private citizens, and as such, subject to local laws and rules. There were quite a few Sheriffs and DA's who wanted to prosecute the people performing the enhanced screens for rape and sexual assault as defined by their districts.
    • by meta-monkey (321000) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @12:06PM (#43629569) Journal

      How would returning airport security to private hands remove accountability? It would do just the opposite.

      Notice how mall cops don't hassle anybody? Except maybe kids skateboarding in the parking lot? And why? Because if a mall cop stops you for no good reason and demands to search your bags or something, you call the management. The manager comes out, reprimands the mall cop for harassing the customers, apologizes profusely to you, Sir, and gives you a gift certificate to the food court.

      When a government cop hassles you and you demand to speak to his superior, expect to get tased, beaten and charged with assaulting an officer.

      I would much rather have private security personnel working for the airports and airlines than government officials. The rent-a-cops at least have an economic incentive to not treat you like shit. The government cops have no incentive to give a fuck, and so they don't.

    • by fermion (181285)
      And remember this is same Paul that had a problem with Obama using drones to kill his friends, but had no problems with using drones to kill a suspect fleeing a liquor store that had been robbed of $10. His opinion is unknown when both are the same.
  • How about... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jon787 (512497) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @11:41AM (#43629413) Homepage Journal

    I would like to keep my shoes on and be able to take a 2L through the checkpoint.

    • Re:How about... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by houghi (78078) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @12:42PM (#43629785)

      Why do you hate America?

      Just remember that this is the actual defense is that people use if you are talking about stopping it. (And I am not even talking about the metric system.)

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        And yet, oddly enough, the line works even better when used against those arguing in favor of a police state.

      • Re:How about... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @03:12PM (#43630715)

        "Just remember that this is the actual defense is that people use if you are talking about stopping it."

        Who gives a damn? Because you know they're completely full of sh*t. So why in hell should you care what their argument is?

        TSA hasn't made America safer. If anything, it's done the opposite by weakening our Constitutional rights... and getting people used to it. TSA all by itself is extremely dangerous to America.

  • Unless we quit being so sensitive about profiling, and admit certain groups are more prone to terrorism, and monitor them more closely, we are going to be more prone to harassing a lot of innocent people. Since it isn't politically correct to profile, and it's nearly impossible to kill a government agency, my vote is to change the name of the TSA to the Transportation Groping agency. Evidently that's politically correct, since that's what they're doing.
    • Unless we quit being so sensitive about profiling, and admit certain groups are more prone to terrorism, and monitor them more closely, we are going to be more prone to harassing a lot of innocent people.

      I'd rather not have selective harassment, either. How about we just stop being so paranoid and keep cockpit doors secured?

    • "Since it isn't politically correct to profile, and it's nearly impossible to kill a government agency, my vote is to change the name of the TSA to the Transportation Groping agency."

      They profile all the time. Hell, half their job is profiling. The problem is that they don't profile over the right things... precisely because it's not "politically correct". So they profile other things. Things they know are worthless.

      The phrase "security theater" is no joke. It's all a big act, at your expense. And it isn't entertaining. Or even funny.

  • by smaddox (928261) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @11:43AM (#43629425)

    Why do we even need screening anymore? No one will ever be allowed into the cockpit again, even if they start murdering passengers. Bomb sniffers are still useful, but at this point, an attack on a football stadium during a game would be far more detrimental, both in terms of casualties and psychologically.

    • by gtall (79522)

      Yep, what self-respecting suicide nut wouldn't want to go for a football stadium rather than blowing a plane out of the sky just as it approaches or takes off from a busy airport.

    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Saturday May 04, 2013 @11:59AM (#43629517) Homepage Journal

      Why do we even need screening anymore?

      Did you miss that TSA costs $8B? That $8B goes to politically-connected friends of politicians who funnel some of it back into campaigns to buy votes and perpetuate their power.

      I know, that's not a propagandist answer.

    • Or an attack on the nice big crowd waiting in the tsa checkpoint line.
  • nonsense question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by udachny (2454394) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @11:52AM (#43629473) Journal

    What shouldn't be on the bill of rights for airplane passengers?

    - nonsense question.

    There shouldn't even be such a legal document as 'bill of rights', because it is completely misunderstood probably by all to mean that those are your rights and nothing else. Not true, the government has no authority to limit any of your rights, by default you have all of your rights intact.

    Government can strip you of your rights temporarily or permanently depending on whether the Constitution authorises that power to government for certain situations (like taxing your transactions, it's loss of a right, but at least it's Constitutional).

    Saying that there should be an "airplane passenger bill of rights" is like saying that there should be a "bill of rights for blacks" or "bill of rights for gays" or "bill of rights for women" or "bill of rights for employees", none of it makes any sense, you have all of your rights regardless of your group and association, you shouldn't lose your rights for reasons that are outside of the power authorised to the government by the Constitution, yet here we are.

  • Even my most radically conservative friend who wants to turn all highways and streets into private toll roads, wants government severely reduced in scope and have what's left of the government's budget be balanced no matter what, and believes that Climate Disruption is not caused by man, balked at the notion of privatizing the police.

    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      what was his reasoning? Most places that have private police forces have been some of the safest places there are.

      • by _Ludwig (86077) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @12:36PM (#43629743) Journal

        Also the wealthiest. Coincidence?

      • In a word, corruption. Favoritism and graft. He was wary of those possibilities. Perhaps his fears were increased by having been ticketed a few times for traffic violations when there was some doubt that he did anything wrong.

        Governments also suffer from corruption, of course, but at least in democracies they are formally accountable to the people. An example of the kind of abuse private policing routinely leads to are those red light cameras. Local governments have been too negligent, permissive, a

  • The TSA is a very effective Anti-Tourism Agency. As for Anti-Terrorism, possibly not so much.
    • by Trepidity (597) <.delirium-slashdot. .at. .hackish.org.> on Saturday May 04, 2013 @12:22PM (#43629659)

      A lot of the stuff discouraging tourism isn't from the TSA, but from other agencies under the Department of Homeland Security. For example, Customs and Border Patrol are the ones who run the ridiculous entry process, where non-U.S.-nationals typically have to wait in a line for 1-2 hours before they can be interrogated about their visit and eventually make it out of the airport. And the Office of Biometric Identity Management (formerly US-VISIT), another agency, requires all non-nationals to be biometrically recorded upon entry. And that's only for people in the visa-waiver program: if you're not from a visa-waiver country, there's a whole other set of hassles and delays [state.gov] to get a tourist visa. This process operates poorly enough that a number of academic conferences have started avoiding the U.S., because the delay is so long that speakers from countries like China and Egypt can't get a visa in time to attend and present their paper.

  • by SinisterRainbow (2572075) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @12:14PM (#43629611) Homepage
    Although effectually the TSA serves little to no purpose in actual deterrence, it may be left just to make people feel comfortable / safe. Tho I disagree with both having the TSA and theatrical aspects.
  • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @12:20PM (#43629649) Homepage Journal

    With the total inability of government to do anything that benefits the people, I often wonder if it's possible to crowd-source activism.

    Suppose we had a web site where people could register discontent with selected issues. Something like "Fix It Or Else.com".

    In the manner of We The People [google.com], people could find or create petitions which demand actions from politicians on specific issues, and promise to vote against the incumbent if the issues are not resolved.

    For example, you could petition your senators to abolish the TSA, and if that doesn't happen you promise to vote against them at the next election. Similar for other issues - end the war on drugs, legalize gay marriage, increase NASA's budget, and so on.

    Many elections are decided by a thin margin - a couple of thousand votes is usually enough to swing the election. Frequently a couple of hundred will do. You wouldn't have to give up the belief that your party is better than the other party; just resolve to punish them for inaction this one time.

    Would this have an effect? Could crowd-sourcing bring accountability to the rulers of government?

    Some details:

    .) Issues would be addressed to specific politicians. Petitions could be addressed to the president, your senators, your governor, and so on - depending on the scope of the issue.

    .) If a petition reaches a registration goal, a copy is sent to the addressed people.

    .) Six weeks before the election, the system invites petition registrants to vote whether the issue was resolved

    .) One week before the election, the system sends the voting results back. You would get an E-mail "95% of respondents feel this issue was not addressed, and will be voting against Senator Jack Johnson at the upcoming election".

    .) The system will close petition registrations some months before the election (at the party convention?) to prevent paid shills from swaying the results.

    • 1) you need to crowdsource lobbyist money, not votes. Politicians respond better to hard money right now than nebulous unverifiable voting threats in the future.

      2) people have to get over the "all or nothing" mindset. Just look at the comments on slashdot. You've got people who hate the TSA, but won't voice support for Paul's efforts to abolish/change it because they disagree with other positions Paul holds about gay marriage or abortion that have nothing to do with the TSA.

  • Just give the whole thing to Bruce Schneier and stand back.

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @01:21PM (#43630015)
    The tsa needs to be abolished. US Citizens should not be treated like prisoners in their own country. And visitors should not be treated this poorly either, it is embarrassing. And more importantly, it does not make anyone safer, distracts from focusing on actual security.
  • by kawabago (551139) on Saturday May 04, 2013 @02:08PM (#43630319)
    Passengers now know they have to save themselves from terrorists in the air. It has been shown repeatedly that anyone threatening the safety of a flight is quickly brought under control by the passengers themselves. This keeps planes safer than any amount of screening will ever do.
  • People think that by abolishing a government agency that they will get rid of the functionality. It's as foolish as thinking that you'll stop having to pay income tax if you get rid of the IRS. Getting rid of the agency that is doing dumb things won't change the dumb things, it will simply change who is doing them. Stop going after the people doing the dumb things and start going after the dumb things themselves...

  • Paul doesn't really seem to do that much to advance the libertarian agenda. I get the feeling he's just another Washington insider, talking the talk enough to retain the branding but otherwise just working the system for his own benefit. I imagine him rather like Barbie's Ken -- nice abs, but lacking where it counts.
  • So don't expect the bombs to stop anytime soon.

    Boston is just the start, whether or not who you believe is responsible one thing is for sure, its bigger money and bigger payouts to the banks in the future because they are using each crisis to destroy the constitution and prepare for the economic collapse of the dollar.

    By the time that happens, they will be ready to deal with all of you peons reading this that don't like the fact the banks took all your money and you don't like it.

    This is just all a ruse. A diversion from the real fact of the matter which is not the fact that we invaded the middle east because they "hate our freedom and liberties"...funny I don't see the Taliban or Al CIAeda passing NDAA legislation.

    No, the people who hate our freedom and liberties are the people who you elect to office and above all, that den of vipers called the Federal Reserve.

    They, are the ones who hate our freedom and liberties. They are the ones who signed the papers for the NDA acts via proxy of their crony puppets they allow you to pick from and idiots elect.

    TSA is a crony federal reserve funded operation, and if they want you to pay more, they have nothing to prove except perhaps setting off another "terrorist act" to get an even bigger budget passed.

    Most people have no idea how the money system works in the United States, and in all of its satellite states in Europe.

    This entire mischief is all about money, and has nothing to do with keeping you safe.

    It is disgusting and it is going to all end very very badly.

    -Hack

    Aeschylus: only through suffering do we learn

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