Latest Airport-Security Exploit: Walking Through in a Group

parody TSA logo

Here’s another of those occasional reminders that the TSA, like so much of our astoundingly expensive “national security” apparatus, is utterly and completely useless.

I just ran a search that suggests I have mocked the TSA in print well over 100 times now, not even counting the occasional offhand mention, and yet it still sucks. I’m starting to think it’s not even paying attention to criticism.

Its latest buffoonery, unless something else has happened since Monday, involves a security breach at JFK Airport. Although “security breach” seems a little overwrought here, because the incident involved 11 people who defeated the TSA’s high-tech, multi-layered, double-top-secret security scheme by the cunning expedient of just walking through it. Apparently, these miscreants saw an untended security line, or at least an unmanned metal detector, and decided to walk through. Which they did, unmolested (verb choice intentional) by the TSA. Three of them actually set off the metal detector and yet no TSA employee seems to have roused himself or herself to see what was going on.

Of course, there’s nothing they can do themselves anyway, because as I’ve mentioned before, TSA employees are not law-enforcement officers, although they refer to themselves as “officers” and have gradually changed their uniforms over the years to seem more and more officer-like. But they have no law-enforcement authority. So, should an incident take place like … well, let’s see, like 11 people walking through a security checkpoint and heading toward some planes, what the TSA is supposed to do is call airport police. Sometimes there is an officer near the checkpoint, like the one in Oakland who talked meanly to me when I forgot my ID once, and then let me get on the plane anyway because, you know, I’m white. But he could conceivably have shot me if … well, you know.

And the TSA did notify airport police at JFK after the incident Monday. Two hours after the incident Monday, by which time all the unscreened potential terrorists had boarded their planes and flown off to their potentially deadly destinations.

I guess I should give somebody some credit for not scrambling fighters to escort these planes, as they have done in the past for equally crappy reasons. But they did follow the even stranger practice they sometimes follow of screening the suspicious individuals upon arrival. What does that achieve? Obviously, at that point they have not hijacked the plane. And if they wanted to shoot people at an airport, they would have done that already and saved themselves the trip. Oh, I see TSA released a statement, so maybe it’ll explain why it does that?

TSA conducted security measures at the passengers’ arrival airport [SFO]. TSA works with a network of security layers both seen and unseen. We are confident this incident presents minimal risk to the aviation transportation system. Once our review is complete, TSA will take appropriate action.


I did greatly enjoy, though, the comment that TSA has security layers “both seen and unseen.” They were unseen at JFK on Monday, that’s for sure.