TSA – bad to the bone

I admit — I’ve never been a big fan of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), but every once in a while they take a small step in the right direction. Yet every time I get ready to compliment TSA on at least something it’s done that appears to be an improvement over what it did before, darned if the agency doesn’t turn right around and give us another reason to dislike it. TSA is on a roll these days.

First of all, it’s moving ahead with plans to install more and more full-body x-ray scanners at airports. If you haven’t read about these contraptions, you need to. Now, pretty much everyone is familiar with x-rays; you get ‘em at the doctor’s office and occasionally at the dentist. There’s a reason the technician giving you the x-ray leaves the room and hides behind a lead barrier before switching the machine on; the same reason the dental assistant puts a lead shield over you before taking x-rays of your teeth: x-rays are harmful! Yet here we have TSA employees at airports, directing passengers into a glass and metal vertical cylinder, and then taking an x-ray of the entire body (from the head down to the toes, and everything in between) of the hapless passenger as he or she stands there in front of everyone in ridiculous poses in this glass tube. The images thus rendered so that the TSA folks can satisfy themselves you are not hiding something on your person, reveal the victim in all his or her nakedness.

The government assures us the machines, which use a new technology called “millimeter wave technology” are completely safe, and that no one will ever see that revealing image of your unclothed body. Yeah, sure.

Then, there’s “Secure Flight,” the new-fangled data system being implemented by our friends at TSA. Starting now on some airlines, TSA will deny entry to the airline concourse to anyone whose identification information does not match precisely with the information on their ticket. In other words, if — let’s say hypothetically — your legal name is William Jefferson Clinton, but the name on your ticket is “Bill Clinton,” TSA will refuse to let you board the plane for which you’ve already paid, and even though you pose no risk whatsoever to the flight. Is this a great country or what?

But the most frightening stunt pulled by TSA was the detention and interrogation on March 29th of Rep. Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty staffer, Steve Bierfeldt. The reason this man was detained and questioned for half an hour at the airport in St. Louis? — Weapons? No. Explosives? No. Illicit drugs? No. The only reason this law-abiding citizen was detained and interrogated (including by foul-mouthed TSA employees) was because he happened to have a box with more cash in it than the TSA folks thought was okay! I kid you not. According to TSA, the mere fact that a citizen of the United States of America is carrying “a large sum of cash” (the amount triggering detention and interrogation is, of course, undefined) through a TSA security checkpoint designed to prevent weapons or explosives from being brought on board commercial aircraft, is considered sufficient grounds to suspect the citizen of wrong doing and force them to answer questions to the satisfaction of TSA employees. (The money Mr. Bierfeldt was carrying was the entirely legitimate and lawful proceeds of a political event from which he was returning home.)

Friends, this is outrageous. Everyone who cares about freedom and limited government, and who wants to hear first-hand how far we’ve travelled down the Orwellian road to 1984, should listen to the recording that Steve Bierfeldt made (without TSA’s realizing it) of his ordeal with TSA in St. Louis. The recording is available on the internet; and It’s enough to make you lose sleep at night.

29 comments Add your comment


April 10th, 2009
8:45 am

Go ahead and lump ‘Homeland Security’ in with the TSA, BB. Any govt agency that abuses civil rights as much as these needs to be eliminated. Remember…all enemies foreign and domestic.


April 10th, 2009
9:12 am

Mr. Barr, you might want to take the time learn a little about X-rays and millimeter-wave systems before denouncing their use as “harmful and dangerous.”

Such ignorance really detracts from your message about the entirely legitimate issues of privacy and civil rights.


April 10th, 2009
9:22 am

Copy, maybe you should re-read the article. Mr Barr does not say that millimeter wave systems are “harmful and dangerous”. He states that X-rays are harmful (which they are if you overly exposed).

Eleanor Rigby

April 10th, 2009
10:13 am

Land this plan in Cuba or everyone on board get a Franklin to the face! They have lost their mind. And it’s not just the TSA. From the school board’s zero tolerance (Remember the Tweety chain?), to the court’s zero tolerance and sex offender laws (Remember Genarlow Wilson?), the whole country has lost its mind. The people have spoken. They would trade their liberty for “security”.


April 10th, 2009
10:20 am

Right you are, Bob. Big Brother knows where we are, who we communicate with, what we buy, and no telling what else by our voluntary use of cell phones, debit cards, grocery store discount cards, internet use, on and on. The genie is out of the bottle, and just wait until cash is no longer used, and implants are the norm. Dogs and horses have them now, how long before we start using using human chips as a “safety measure”?


April 10th, 2009
11:06 am

There’s only one thing to do. Become really wealthy (by any means necessary) so you can drive up to your private jet and just bypass the TSA abuse. Homeland Security? Did this not not scare the crap out of you the day it was announced? Hello Stalin? Hitler? Mao? It’s okay though, just renew your faith in God this weekend folks. All is according to plan.

Corporal Punishment

April 10th, 2009
11:20 am

Like we need another reason to dislike the Bush/Cheney-paranoia created invasions into civil rights. It would be a big improvement if they would quit having chat fest at the screener, check their attitudes and just do their jobs.

It would also be an improvement of they would limit the strip searches to only attractive people.

Barr Should Be Barred

April 10th, 2009
11:39 am

You’re a complete IDIOT! Take the time to actually learn what TSA’s mission is..to protect the Nation’s transportation systems. I bet you’d be the first person to critize TSA if there were another 9/11. Thankfully TSA has security measures in place to prevent that type of attack again.

The Anti-Wooten

April 10th, 2009
11:51 am

Barr Should Be Barred, do you sleep underneath your bed at night? Have you soiled your trousers today? What kind of Communist are you that you’d be totally and completely willing to throw away all of our freedoms as Americans for some slight measure of security?

Common Sense

April 10th, 2009
11:54 am

It’s one thing to criticize if you know the details, and another to make snide comments about speculations, like what you have done here Mr. Barr. To be honest, not every method of security is very convenient to the traveling public, but, unfortunately, we can’t, as a people sacrifice our lives for the inconvenience of taking your shoes off and taking all the metal out of our pockets. I’ve been through the millimeter wave, and frankly, I didn’t mind at all. You didn’t seem to mention the presence of local law enforcement officers at St. Louis, so, we can just ignore that like you so efficiently did.

What this country needs is good, and credible questioning of the government. What it does not need is rhetoric and ignorance of fact, which you have so graciously shown here.


April 10th, 2009
1:52 pm

Sure is easy to tel who voted for our bowin pansy in chief.
Barr is dead on. A knee jerk reaction, is the tsa really going to save anyone?
It will save the job of more gov. idiots. You know the kind, they live everywhere. Something bad happened so we need a who new government Dept. Cabinet level. Right. If the airlines handed out a small one shot 410 derringer to every passenger over the age of 21 who requested one, bingo no more hijackers. Don’t worry about the one whack job, he has one shot , he is worried about the other 40-50 folks. I have seen people held in airports for stupid reasons. Want to try it, go buy a ticket, one way with cash. You will never board the plane. Have more than 5k in your pocket. ain’t gonna ride, you are a security threat. Lets not mention it is nobody s damn business when you buy a ticket or how much cash you have. Welcome to the new amerika comrade.


April 10th, 2009
1:58 pm

God hates trash, so if a man chooses to apply for and receive from the state a permit to carry a weapon, and this makes him an incestuous head case on food stamps?
Somebody different than you is GOT to be bad , huh?
If we all thought like you? one big nation of spineless libs?
I love that logic.


April 10th, 2009
2:39 pm

The TSA is nothing more than a bunch of gubmint entrenched thugs. Like our current level of cop, they prey on the power they have been given, steal what they can and ignore the civil rights of this country.
Just another excuse to screw the stupid unwashed masses. And they like it, go figure.

anonymous coward

April 10th, 2009
2:52 pm

I am against the use of the millimeter wave devices not because they are dangerous (the amount of harmful radiation has been equated to 2 minutes of exposure that you get while flying at altitude) but because this goes too far. Our *original* government was not founded to do these things but to honor the rights and freedoms of the individual. You lemmings that hand over everything to agencies like the TSA will wonder what happened when you’re sitting in a jail cell with no recourse and no access to a lawyer or family — oh wait that doesn’t happen here. I’ll agree that Bob’s article isn’t the best presentation of this, but the intent is very real.
What about warrantless wiretapping? Right – what’s the problem if you’re not doing something wrong, right? I suppose you don’t mind if I start snooping through your mail because after all, I’m from the government and I’m here to protect you. Funny thing is, the Obama administration has put forth arguments to push forward warrantless wiretapping that actually says the federal government is not bound by the freaking constitution. Oh yay! Change! NOT.
Freaking morons.

Brother Dave

April 10th, 2009
2:56 pm

Dear Hearts:
I have known good citizens to be ARRESTED and have their money confiscated; all because they had a large sum of CASH. By their local pollice. It takes forever to get it returned. Kumbaya,

Mr Liberty

April 10th, 2009
2:58 pm

OK, so you want some reality and real background on the TSA. How about the fact that Bob Barr voted in favor of both the rejected House version of the Airport Security Federalization Act and the eventually-signed Senate version (the bill that created the TSA). He also voted for the wonderful Patriot Act, and virtually every other Orwellian fascist proposal put in front of his face by the wonderful Bush administration.

Hey Bob, sorry to point out the obvious, but where were your principles while folks like Ron Paul were attempting to get supposed conservatives to vote against big, fascist, totalitarian government??? Yes, we were attacked by supposedly 19 guys with box cutters. What does that have to do with imposing the american equivalent of the Stazi on us?? Why exactly, aside from the obvious reason that republicans are supposed to support anything a republican president proposes without bothering to note their oath to uphold the constitution, did you vote for all this totalitarian stuff??

Hey, don’t get me wrong, I am glad to hear anyone stand up against this kind of unconstitutional behavior, but the time to do that was back in 2001 while everyone was voting on bills they hadn’t bothered to read. Everyone except Ron Paul of course.


April 10th, 2009
3:17 pm

“Sure is easy to tel who voted for our bowin pansy in chief.”

Rick, your comment makes no sense. The TSA got started down this path with G.W. Bush and full Republican support. Everybody who voted for G.W. Bush was enthusiastically on board with surrendering our freedoms in the name of security.

How does that translate to the voters who elected our current President? They’re the OPPOSITE of the lockstep, fear-driven, right wing losers.


April 10th, 2009
3:33 pm

Like I keep saying… the masses will not notice until they can’t stuff their face in front of their TV every night. Then they will start to pay attention. These agencies operate like businesses. They are out to secure their own futures. The more control they have over their unwilling consumers, the easier it is. The Monopoly against personal freedoms just keeps getting stronger. Why, oh why could you or Ron Paul not have even been considered. For god’s sakes, Paul said he would abolish the IRS and it was hardly mentioned. Imagine the news hoopla that would have resulted if McCain or Obama had even hinted at it? I’m so sick of ‘yes’ men and coporate puppets parading around as ‘leaders’. It is as if guilt has no effect on them any longer.

free bird

April 10th, 2009
3:46 pm

i flew from atl to west coast (767 aircraft) a couple of weeks ago and never had to show any id.


April 10th, 2009
4:31 pm

In a recent USA Today article regarding a new program by TSA to begin additional random searching of passengers at gate entry was nothing more than another attempt by TSA to further harass the flying public. This should not be necessary as passengers are subjected to bag, personal, laptop, etc. x-rays at check in.

After reading down a few paragraphs I got a good chuckle when I read the “motive” for the (additional search) program: (Quote)“…the TSA fears that airport workers, who are not routinely screened, could sneak weapons into the secure area of an airport and give them to passengers.” Was Mr. Roth serious when he said that? I guess I am nuts by suggesting this but why don’t they (TSA) begin a thorough screening of ‘airport workers’? DUH! Good God Almighty! doesn’t this make more sense than to continue harassing passengers at the gate level?

someone else alluded to the fact that they “chat” at the gates. I observe too much “shuckin’ ‘an jivin’” there to be meaningful in searching for weapons, etc.


April 10th, 2009
4:59 pm

I flew, last summer from Indianapolis to Denver, slept all night on the floor, and flew out the next morning to Spokane and on to Seattle. No one asked who I was. But when TSA was formed and interviewing and testing for employees I applied, but wasn’t good enough. I am a college educated, seasoned,experienced worker who had already spent 33 years as an inspector, but they wanted the very best, and I wasn’t one of them. If they aren’t that good anymore, maybe I should re-apply.

The REAL GodHatesTrash, Superstar

April 10th, 2009
6:54 pm

Dumbya made sure that wages were low for the TSA screeners, and you get what you pay for. Starting pay is in the $12-13/hour range for most cities. Not going to attract the best and the brightest.


April 10th, 2009
11:38 pm

Lets get the story straight,Steve Bierfeldt came through the St Louis airport with the intent to cause a problem, he failed to provide any information or cooperate with TSA officers or the airport police, if you research the reason you will find out his motive. Google, (Missouri State police, militia, Ron Paul). He wasn’t just passing through Missouri folks, the Ron Paul people were in Missouri because there was a MIAC report specifically describing supporters of presidential candidates Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin, and Bob Barr as “militia” influenced terrorists and instructs the Missouri police to be on the lookout. I was there and the only thing the TSA did wrong in my opinion was failing to have Steve Bierfeldt arrested for interfering in a Federal screening process.


April 11th, 2009
7:46 am

I have been railing against the USAA Patriot Act since the pea-brains in Washington passed it. It is an outrage that in this, a supposedly free country, that we have to be subject to this type of invasion of privacy. All of these liberties that we are losing are a very big deal, but it seems that no one is willing to listen. The American people think these invasions by the TSA and Homeland Security make us “safe”, when, in fact, if anyone wanted to blow up a building or a plane badly enough, they could do it. My heart aches to see this new America where the general populace is so ignorant and stupid they are willing to accept this.

Redneck Convert

April 13th, 2009
10:06 am

Well, I say strip them buck-nekkid and search them inside out. Anything to keep me and mine safe. I don’t care about this liberty stuff. That’s just a bunch of bunk from the libruls.

These TSA people that look at the pictures from that fancy machine need a pay raise, that’s for sure. It might not be too bad to see alot of people buck nekkid, but if Sister Dusty or this deborahinAthens show up in a picture it must be awful hard on the eyes. Not to mention getting put off your feed for a month.

Anyhow, I’m sorry to see Bob Barr done turned librul on us. We need to do anything we can to catch the Terrists. I’m tired of staying in the trailer and sleeping with my anti-tank weapon and my two machine guns that I keep for self defense and hunting. If you got nothing to hide–and you won’t with this new machine–there’s no reason to worry.

Big Government Hater

April 13th, 2009
2:23 pm

We wouldn’t need the TSA if our government would allow flight personnel to carry guns. Heaven forbid that we allowed to protect ourselves!

Logical Dude

April 13th, 2009
3:08 pm

Jim, the argument is still valid. You can be stopped for carrying a lot of money. THIS IS STUPID. What threat is there to have cash? NONE. If I had more time, I could go through the series of stupid rules that punish the innocent, such as curfews, no liquor laws, gambling laws, etc.


April 15th, 2009
1:30 pm

Copyleft, this all got started with GW Bush and full BI-PARTISAN support. Which is why Obama’s voting record on these things closely resembled McCain’s and why I was loathe to vote for either of them. I ain’t seen no Democrat trying to repeal USA-PATRIOT.


April 15th, 2009
1:31 pm

Silly people, don’t you know when you transfer $10,000+ from one bank to another they have to inform the government? They’ve been spying on your money all along, it doesn’t matter if it’s in the bank or on your person.